Friday, October 15, 2010

Oh, for an archivist

We had a little bit of discussion this week on BACNET-L over the Scale property of the Accumulator object, which provides value and datatype for scaling the object's output. The problem is that it could be an INTEGER or REAL value -- and somebody with an INTEGER application quite reasonably didn't want to support REAL.

So I thought I would dig back into the history of this object, which started around 2000 with similar proposals from the IEIEJ (Japan) and Europe. Unfortunately, the two proposed objects were similar enough that the committee wanted them merged. A couple of mergers and separations later (this from memory), all agreed that the similarity was merely superficial and we had two distinctly different objects: the Accumulator and the Pulse Converter.

But where the Scale property came from, well, I didn't recall it being in the original proposal from Japan.

I went back and looked in my personal proposals archive. Nothing! But fortunately, sometime around 2005 or 2006 I had become annoyed by the ever-growing old proposals archive on the FTP site (for one thing, it slowed down synchronization efforts) and took the time to sort proposals by year and ZIP them -- 2001, 2002, 2003, etc. And that proved really handy for researching the history of this proposal, at least at the granularity of year of filing.

Now there were revisions of the proposal missing, but I was able to piece the history together well enough for a discussion, if not for a absolutely definitive answer as to intent.

But the ZIPped archives end at 2005 -- and I know why: I didn't have time in subsequent years (or at least enough empty time to try to fill it with archival operations). I'm certain that for Dave Robin, current chairman, it's probably worse.

So, unless we get a volunteer to be our BACnet archivist, things won't change. (What? Not me! I may have achieved what Steve Bushby once described "Chair Emeritus" as being "the utter nirvana of being totally useless" but I'm way too overloaded right now with Smart Grid. Ask me again in, oh, three years or so?)

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