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What is a Standard?
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What is a Standard?


The word ‘standard’ has diverse meanings including official standards sanctioned by an accredited standards body, de facto standards (such as Microsoft Windows), and ad hoc standards (widely used methods or procedures adopted by mutual agreement). This discussion will concentrate on official standards which pertain to two basic areas: technology and use (or applications).


Technology Standards


Think of technology standards as "specifications" because they deal with the nuts-and-bolts of how things work.


In RFID, for instance, technical specifications cover issues such as frequency, data transfer and communications protocols. They do not cover how the technology is used, only how it works.

Nomenclature is challenging because "technical specification" has different meanings in different areas of the world. For example, a technical specification in CEN is a lower grade, less permanent deliverable likely to be revised. A standard, on the other hand, is intended to be stable and products shall conform to the requirements.


Data structuring (protocols and/or syntax) standards are considered generic and, while they may be independent of a specific technology, are considered subsets of technical standards. An example of this type of standard is Data Identifiers (DIs) that can be employed in virtually any AIM technology.


Application Standards


Application standards, on the other hand, define how a technology is used and not how it works.

Application standards cover data content, structure and syntax. They typically point to a technical specification and may define a subset of it to limit how a specific technology will be used to carry or represent the data. Additional guidance, such as placement, durability and so forth is also generally included.


GS1’s Global Trade Identification Number (GTIN) is an example of a high-level application standard that is completely independent of a technical specification because it can be applied regardless of whether bar code, RFID or even human-readable characters are used to represent it.

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