What is Triple-S ?
Triple-S is a language for describing survey metadata – that is, data about the survey data: question and response texts, the location of individual data items within the record, valid ranges for responses, and so on.
So it’s another spec language, like Quantum or Snap?
Yes and no. It does the same job – describing the data for a survey – and the information is stored in a text file, but Triple-S files aren’t written by spec writers: they’re normally generated automatically by a program.
What’s the point of that, then?
The point is, that if one program (say BellView) can translate into Triple-S format, and another program (say Merlin) can translate from Triple-S format, then the survey metadata can be translated from one language program to the other automatically – without the need for a specwriter to do the job manually.
So who owns the Triple-S standard?
Nobody does – it’s a public standard. The Triple-S Group (who designed the standard and publish it for general use) consists of three survey software program developers – Geoff Wright (Computable Functions), Steve Jenkins (Snap Surveys Ltd) and Keith Hughes (Merlinco) and two independant consultants, Ed Ross and Pat Molloy.
And what’s in it for you?
Our original motivation was that we were fed up with writing imports from each others’ packages, and having to change the import each time the competitor changed his syntax. Now the standard has been adopted by more than 50 software producers worldwide, we want to bring it into line with the XML metadata exchange format which looks likely to will become the standard for Web data interrogation and extraction over the next few years.
And what’s in it for me?
If you – or your customers – use more than one kind of survey software, then check the survey software suppliers support Triple-S: if they don’t, tell them about us and tell them to get in touch! If you have in-house systems which handle survey metadata, then get in touch with us yourself, and we will help you implement Triple-S in your systems.
How do I find out more?
By visiting our web site, http://www.triple-s.org or contacting one of the Triple-S group members.