What's in a Cave Survey? Only what you need.
The simplest way to answer that is to look at what has been done historically. If you care to do your own homework, you can browse this collection of survey data file formats.
- sample survey data from David MacKenzie's Walls
If you want to cut to the chase, below you'll find a matrix list (generalized, in no particular order, and probably not all inclusive) that incorporates most of the attributes that appear in the survey data formats linked above. Some attributes are common to all of the formats while others are unique to one or two.
The matrix is a useful tool that helps discover preliminary requirements for the XML-based solution. I.e. the generalized data elements listed below are "needed" by the cave surveying community and should therefore be addressed by the XML data file. Combined with other requirements, derived from discussion or other sources, this lays out a clearer development path for cave survey data in XML.
By comparing multiple data formats, side by side in the matrix below, it becomes readily evident which types of data are most critical to cave surveyors. Said another way, the more often a data element appears in the matrix, the more important that data will be in an XML representation of cave survey data. An XML implementation that hopes to meet the needs of the international cave surveying community should leverage the assessment inferred by the matrix below. (The author recognizes the fact that this analysis is incomplete and lacks inputs from such cave surveying communities as might exist in France, Germany, or other countries of the world.)
It is not necessary to immediately meet all the "needs" identified below but an evolving XML representation of survey data should consider facilitating as many of the elements listed as necessary. The value of "necessary" in this context is yet to be derived. But it's a safe bet that the more often an element appears, the more important it will be to the XML format. Less frequently appearing data types may be addressed in later revisions of the XML standard.
Whenever possible the original "tag" was replicated from the example data file and placed in its respective column. Otherwise, an X is used to denote that the type of data indicated may occur within the respective survey data file. To move the matrix to its next logical step a seventh column has been added to contain "suggestions" for the element name as it may ulimately appear in the XML file format. Feed back on elements is highly encouraged and appropriate. XML can be very accomodating of different points of view, even across languages.
Comparative analysis of data elements common to some of the most actively
developed cave survey
programs in use today: