Results and Next Steps from DAPSI Phase 1

At the close of 2021, the IOP applied for Round 3 funding offered by the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet (NGI) initiative for the Data Portability and Services Incubator (DAPSI), with the intent to progress the work already completed and underway on the Open Know-How (OKH) standard. Funding for the proposal “Owning your own work, no matter where you publish: portability and interoperability of hardware designs through new Open Know-How standards and tools” was awarded in early 2022, and Phase 1 of the research component of the proposed work kicked off in April.

The primary purpose of this study was to conduct research toward developing metadata standards and tooling to help makers gain more control over their projects’ data by enabling portability between platforms. This research will aid in the further development of portability tools to transform data hosted on specific platforms into the OKH data standard for Open Hardware designs and frame investigation of the possible use of decentralised data-storage for project data.

Phase 1 of the DAPSI project included research into use cases of the platforms’ use of the OKH standard, including a focus on:

  1. Benefits and challenges of those members of the IOPA who have tried to adopt the use of the OKH version 1 standard on their platform by publishing manifests

  2. Issues preventing adoption by those members of the IOPA who have not adopted the use of the standard

The study was undertaken by a contracted Researcher and Technical Author, Sarah Hutton, who conducted several informal interviews with community members, representing 19 different stakeholder organisations. The study additionally included document review, meeting with working groups and conferring with Technical Lead Max Wardeh to guide the process. Guiding questions for the interviews included:

  1. What is your understanding of the purpose and intent of the OKH standard?

  2. Does this purpose and intent match your needs to accomplish your goals in manufacturing?

  3. What is the current awareness of generated manifests and their utility?

  4. What do we mean by data portability?

  5. What, in your view, are the next steps to make progress?

This research was grounded in preserving the original intent for the standard - which is that a maker, designer, or platform can choose to adopt the OKH specification, rather than an over-prescriptive approach that deters adoption.

Major takeaways/findings of the research include:

  • Mandatory aspects of the OKH specification should be kept to a minimum, to lessen the barriers for those who want to make their know-how discoverable; 4 fields are required for OKH search and discoverability in okh v1.0.0
  • Missing field(s) across all use cases: health and safety industry standards/requirements, which are frequently dependent on local government regulatory practice

The full report back to DAPSI on the research is available for your review at OKH P&I Phase I: Use Case Analysis as well as the accompanying report on continued development work on OKH at Open Know-How - P&I. The following use cases, available in detail in the full report, are:

Use Case 1/OKH Search v1: Challenge with knowing where manifest files are published required manually adding manifests for indexing. As of the end of Phase 1 of the DAPSI research (beginning of July 2022), there are 490 YAML files in the dataset, with varying levels of information present in the product manifest, currently without data validation.

Use Case 2/Appropedia: Addition of the sdg field (sustainable-development-goals) for categorisation by UNESCO’s SDGs; added field is of a benefit to connecting with other projects and identifying potential project candidates for shared funding and continuing research.

Use Case 3/OPEN-NEXT LOSH-Crawler: Scrapes project metadata on various platforms and converts it to manifest files. Ontological mapping is in TURTLE; “lossy” multiple optional fields removed for ease of use.

Based on the research findings, the recommended next steps for making progress on portability of OKH are the following:

R1: Develop a shared understanding amongst all stakeholders and workings groups (WGs): OKH specification intent/audience and conduct additional community research.

R2: Develop a shared ontological understanding amongst all stakeholders and WGs: OKH specification metadata schema, manifest fields, and data format.

R3: Develop a shared validation and feedback system for built objects and projects.

Continued development undertaken by the working groups under the guidance of Technical Lead Max Wardeh has been addressing some of the recommendations, including a focus on manifest validation, web-based tools and APIs and the potential for using SOLID pods to store manifest files. This ongoing work is open and available for review and contribution on GitHub:

We are currently working to schedule a community discussion of the research findings and next steps for the month of August, during which Max Wardeh and Sarah Hutton will provide a Presentation and Discussion of OKH portability R&D, to be recorded and disseminated to the broader community. Our intent is to have high participation in this call, as we’re planning to have a vibrant discussion of next steps and having contributions to these conversations is essential to continue the development of community-based standard and approach to development. A separate communication will be sent out with event details soon.