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Topic Title: TRAK - The Rail Architecture Framework
Topic Summary: Notification of the development/release of an architectural framework for transport / rail (& anything else!)
Created On: 19 August 2009 06:46 PM
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 19 August 2009 06:46 PM
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nicplum

Posts: 9
Joined: 03 October 2002

The Rail Architecture Framework has been created and been sponsored by the Head of Systems Integration within London Underground.

Origins
It has it's beginnings in proprietary attempts to establish standards for system architecture. Prior to this there were single views of purely physical architecture. Architectural views of the physical, functional and geographic architectures of the underground were developed and the relationships between views established.

The initial approach didn't, however, make any reference to any external standards. The decision was therefeore taken to adopt IEEE 1471 (see links). Architectural viewpoints (as defined by IEEE 1471) specified the content of each view and the concerns addressed by each view. At this point there was no underlying metamodel defining the types of object and how they related to each other.

A metamodel with a richer langauge for describing rail architecture was needed. There wasn't any obvious architecture framework available within the rail industry and after deliberation it was decided to adapt the MODAF metamodel for use within the rail domain.

The driving needs have been:-
    simplicity
    no more elements or relationships than is absoutely necessary
    pragmatism - adequacy rather than perfection
    recognition of hard and soft 'systems' engineering products e.g. trains, control and signalling
    enabling systems such as busineses
    systems can include people ('human resource')
    supportable by tools


In adapting the MODAF metamodel paradoxically the TRAK metamodel has become domain-independent - 'systems' and the real world only contain a small set of types of 'thing' after all. If there is any domain-specific content then it is likely to be expressed in more detailed views, for example deployment involving geographic overlays. One of the benefits of commonality of metamodels is that architects with different domain background can readily understand and use a different framework.

Status
These are early days. It is in use on the Sub Surface Upgrade Programme (SUP) which is the largest single project being undertaken by LU to upgrade rolling stock and signalling on the Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle and District underground lines. It is also being used in a study by Birmingham University Centre for Railway Research & Education.

Potential Involvement
We are interested in any offers of help or involvement. One of the problems at the moment is trying to find examples of current rail or transport oriented diagrams/views to see what sort of architectural objects are needed and the sorts of views used to inform view development. What sorts of things are useful? What sorts of dependencies are most critical?


Further Reference
A plugin for the Sparx Systems' Enterprise Architect modelling tool has been developed and is available freely from the SourceForge site.

On this site there is a small section which provides information on the framework, the questions addressed by the views and documents such as the metamodel and a potted views guide. It also includes a UML profile for TRAK.

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========
Epitaph: 'Under this sod lies another'

TRAK support: http://www.trak-community.org

TRAK training: http://www.eclectica-systems.co.uk/trak-training
 06 September 2009 08:45 PM
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z315870

Posts: 65
Joined: 30 May 2003

This is just to support what Nic has said. A common architecture framework for the railways is a really important enabling factor in persuading the industry to use systems engineering methods.

I'm using TRAK to model the environmental management of railway infrastructure throughout Europe - so I'm looking at the levels of general capability and operation right through to the nitty-gritty solutions each national infrastructure manager uses. TRAK lets me look at this as one system, which is really useful for the objectives of my project. I can link physical aspects like sleepers and grease to top-level corporate objectives, with everything I need in between.

I don't know if it's appropriate to plug here but I will be including a section on TRAK in my presentation to the IET Seminar on Systems Engineering in Railways on 11th November. Anyone who is interested in systems engineering for the railways should consider coming along to this. See this page for details.

-------------------------
Dr Joe Silmon PhD MEng CEng MIET
Committee Member, Railway TPN
 06 September 2009 09:19 PM
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nicplum

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Hi, Joe - I'm sure it is always appropriate to plug an IET event on their site ;-)

Talking of which I note that I forgot to add a link to the site hosting the plugin/profile for TRAK

http://mdgfortrak.sourceforge.net

By way of a test I'm in the process of trying to take the DfT White Paper on Delivering a Sustainable Paper and trying to tease out the various organisations, enterprise objectives, goals, metrics, roles, interactions and documents etc. that form the basis for long term planning of technology in the rail industry in the UK and develop a model of these rarified layers. Another reason is to try and see how/if specific projects contribute to this and the capabilities needed. It is also proving useful in trying to understand how things fit together and inevitably raises questions.

-------------------------
========
Epitaph: 'Under this sod lies another'

TRAK support: http://www.trak-community.org

TRAK training: http://www.eclectica-systems.co.uk/trak-training
 17 February 2010 09:19 PM
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nicplum

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Things have moved on.

The really good part is that London Underground in the best traditions of a public body have agreed to release the framework as open source. It will be sponsored or adopted by the UK Department for Transport as part of a drive to push systems engineering throughout the transport domain.

It is being released in 4 products: 1) metamodel 2) UML profile 3) Viewpoint and stereotype definitions 4) Sparx Enterprise Architect file / plugin.

We have the OK from both the US DoD (DODAF) and the UK MoD (MODAF).

Have let loose the general UML profile ( http://trakumlprofile.sourceforge.net ) and the MDG technology (plugin) for Sparx Systems' Enterprise Architect ( http://mdgfortrak.sourceforge.net ). These 2 parts are implementations (i.e. solution) of TRAK. They are released under GPL v3.

The remaining 2 parts - the metamodel ( http://trakmetamodel.sourceforge.net ) and the viewpoints ( http://trakviewpoints.sourceforge.net) will escape very soon. Releasing properly as open source is a very rigorous affair - I am trying to structure the documents and properly preserve the attributions and history with respect to MODAF to be carried forwards. These are the logical (solution free) definitions.

All 4 sourceforge sites have individual mechanisms ("trackers") for capturing bugs, support requests and feature requests in a systematic and open way. I've set up the categories for each based on the content of each product. I've added some headline features for each.

In time there is some joining up to do.

There is quite a lot more that will happen soon.

The best way to keep in touch with the Sourceforge products is to subscribe to each site's RSS feed - this will provide alerts in terms of file activity, news, support etc

As open source products anyone will be able to get involved in the definition and problem-solving to improve the framework and it will all be in the open.

Not saying it's perfect - we know it isn't. It's good enough for practical purposes and we have a list of things that need looking at. What I hope is, being open source, that anyone needing to apply it in a particular situation and finding it lacking can then get involved to solve the problem. Application and usability are all important - more so than any theoretical underpinning. The framework is not a system - this only arises when you add tools, people, organisations and therefore you always have to address visibility, navigation, affordance etc - in short the user interface for the whole thing. We hope in this way that TRAK will be user-centric and problem-led rather than specification-centric.

Anyway, that's the utopian vision which can only be achieved if others get stuck in!

-------------------------
========
Epitaph: 'Under this sod lies another'

TRAK support: http://www.trak-community.org

TRAK training: http://www.eclectica-systems.co.uk/trak-training
 20 August 2011 06:03 PM
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nicplum

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There are now additional implementations of TRAK for:
  • MooD 2010 (a template for Salamander MooD modelling tool)
  • OmniGraffle (via a stencil Mac and iPad)

    There is a list at http://trak.sourceforge.net/implementations.html

    -------------------------
    ========
    Epitaph: 'Under this sod lies another'

    TRAK support: http://www.trak-community.org

    TRAK training: http://www.eclectica-systems.co.uk/trak-training
  •  26 September 2011 11:45 AM
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    Avatar for nicplum.
    nicplum

    Posts: 9
    Joined: 03 October 2002

    TRAK is a finalist for the 2011 IET Innovation Awards

    IET Innovation Awards 2011 - Finalists

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    Epitaph: 'Under this sod lies another'

    TRAK support: http://www.trak-community.org

    TRAK training: http://www.eclectica-systems.co.uk/trak-training
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