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Understanding the SIF Specification
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SIF Specification

The SIF Implementation Specification is heavy reading - there's no way of hiding it! But, at some point, you may be interested to find out exactly what data can be moved using SIF, which in turn will help you understand what issues SIF can solve.


Here is a quick guide for what to look for, where to find it, and how to understand it...

  • There is an individual SIF Implementation Specification for each of our three Communities - Australia (AU), United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US).
  • Each Specification has its own version number
  • The SIF Implementation Specification has two major components:
    • Infrastructure - this section describes the HTTP(S) transport and messaging information
    • Data Model - this section describes the objects and elements
  • Each piece of data (moved by the SIF transport) is called an 'object' at the high level, and 'element' at the more granular level.

Unless you have a technical background, it is unlikely that you will need to refer to the Infrastructure section of the SIF Implementation Specification.

For those of you who are more technically minded - but not technical developers - the Data Model section of the specification is available to view/download in various formats - html, xls, zip. We will concentrate on the html version, as follows:

  • Open the SIF Data Model Implementation Specification document (choose the latest version of either AU, UK or US specifications)
  • Scroll down to the 'Full Table of Contents' section
  • Item 3 - Data Model - provides you with a list of objects currently included within that Specification release.
    • It is well worth reading the introduction section, as this will provide additional clarity on the tables, symbols and characters that you will be presented with through the documentation.
    • Each item within the Table of Contents is linked to the section within the whole document. You can always come back to the beginning, by clicking either 'home' or 'table of contents' at the top of the page.
  • Click on any one of the Data Model items - 3.2.1 Address, for example
  • All sections of this part of the Specification are laid out in a similar way. First you have a description of the object, then a table showing the structure of the object, followed by a table underneath. This table provides more detail - an object description, the characteristics of the object/element (mandatory, optional, conditional etc.), and finally the Type - this column provides you with additional detail on the field (i.e. links to code sets and specific details)


The full list of SIF Implementation Specifications can be found in the SIF Specification area of our Resources.



For additional help and information, why not consider joining the A4L Community?

As a member you can access additional support from our Staff and Community members, gain full access to the Community Site and get involved in specific areas of interest to you, get discounted registration at our events, and help to define the SIF Specification to meet YOUR needs!

Join the A4L Community        Contact Us

  • SIF Association (dba Access 4 Learning (A4L) Community)

  • PO Box 1024, New Albany, Ohio 43054-1024

  • Phone: +1.202.621.0547