The creation of high-quality terminology is both time-consuming
and cost-intensive. As a consequence, the community of terminology
users has a vested interest in exchanging terminological data
collections. Different user-group needs and organizational environments
dictate, however, that the languages and information categories
required by individual systems will vary considerably, which means
that the structure of different terminology databases will also
exhibit a great deal of diversity. This complication applies even
in cases where the individual systems are themselves relatively
simple. As a result, any exchange of terminological data between
different systems becomes significantly more difficult than one
might anticipate. In the past, these problems have made it necessary
for exchange partners to create individual conversion programs
to accommodate each exchange situation.
In order to facilitate more universal, less costly exchange of
data collections containing concept-oriented terminology entries,
the Machine-Readable Terminology Interchange Format (MARTIF) has
been elaborated in ISO Final Draft International Standard (FDIS)
12200. The format relies heavily on the data category names and
definitions contained in the companion standard ISO FDIS 12620,
which essentially specifies data field names and related permissible
instances that may be included as the contents of some data fields.
MARTIF is based on Standard Generalized Markup Language (ISO 8879,
SGML) and was originally developed in close cooperation with the
Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) and the Localisation Industry Standards
Association (LISA). As an SGML-based solution, UARTIF has the
additional advantage that terminological data can be easily processed
like any other SGML documents, e.g., for the publication of printed
MARTIF not only provides open, flexible mechanism for exchanging
data with other potential users employing different terminology
management systems. It can also be used when companies need to
change or upgrade software from one database format to another.
Figure 1 shows an example of a MARTIF terminology interchange
document. For the sake of readability, this example has retained
standard German and French diacritics rather than adopting the
SGML entities typically used in MARTIF, i.e., "Tür"
for "Tür" or "contrôle" for "contrôle".