Project Abstract

This is the first phase of a two-phase project to develop and apply an XML data structure for capturing Virtual Battlespace (VBS2) scenario content. The work involves systems analysis and data modeling using XML technologies. Phase 1 (FY13) will focus on learning XML, XML schemas, and the Extensible Stylesheet Language for Transformations (XSLT), in addition to gaining familiarization with the VBS2 data structures and MSDL. The work will produce an initial XML schema describing VBS2 scenario data content. This project largely will be performed by two Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) graduate students (one Marine, one Army) in the Modeling, Virtual Environments, and Simulation (MOVES) curriculum, with assistance from research faculty for technical instruction, consultation, software development, and laboratory support. The students will address specific and cross-cutting issues of their respective services to maximize benefits to scenario interchange and resource reuse across both services, while also investigating acquisition policy issues for future affordability and open competition. Phase 2 (FY14) will extend and enrich the initial schema, and develop software to parse scenario data to translate from VBS2 to XML and vice versa.



Sponsor
Marine Corps Development Command

Principal Investigator(s)
Curtis Blais

Point of Contact
Curtis Blais
clblais@nps.edu

 Virtual Battlespace Scenario Encoding for Reuse

Abstract: This is the first phase of a two-phase project to develop and apply an XML data structure for capturing Virtual Battlespace (VBS2) scenario content. The work involves systems analysis and data modeling using XML technologies. Phase 1 (FY13) will focus on learning XML, XML schemas, and the Extensible Stylesheet Language for Transformations (XSLT), in addition to gaining familiarization with the VBS2 data structures and MSDL. The work will produce an initial XML schema describing VBS2 scenario data content. This project largely will be performed by two Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) graduate students (one Marine, one Army) in the Modeling, Virtual Environments, and Simulation (MOVES) curriculum, with assistance from research faculty for technical instruction, consultation, software development, and laboratory support. The students will address specific and cross-cutting issues of their respective services to maximize benefits to scenario interchange and resource reuse across both services, while also investigating acquisition policy issues for future affordability and open competition. Phase 2 (FY14) will extend and enrich the initial schema, and develop software to parse scenario data to translate from VBS2 to XML and vice versa.

Date: 29 July 2013

Sponsor: Systems Engineering, Interoperability, Architecture and Technology Division, Marine Corps Systems Command

Organization: Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Modeling, Virtual Environments, and Simulation (MOVES) Institute

Proposed Principal Investigator: Curtis Blais

1.0 INTRODUCTION

The Marine Corps employs the Virtual Battlespace 2 (VBS2) commercial game for small unit training. The Marines have significant investment in training scenarios constructed using VBS2 tools and conforming to the vendor’s particular data formats. To move toward improved interoperability, to gain greater fiscal flexibility in addressing the statutory intent for open competition and affordability, and to protect the investment made in models, terrain, and other elements of training scenarios that are separate and distinct from the virtual and gaming environments in which the simulation executes, open standards need to be applied in place of proprietary commercial off-the-shelf architectures. In the current (and foreseeable) environment of constrained budgets, it is ever more critical that the Marine Corps protects and enhances its investments in simulation systems used for training and other purposes. Expanding capabilities for open scenario interchange will improve scenario reuse while creating greater opportunities for MC/simulation data interchange and open competition for future gaming capabilities.

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a wide-spread approach to describing data format and content to support efficient data processing and data interchange across systems. For military scenario data, one starting point is the Military Scenario Definition Language (MSDL), an international XML standard for describing military scenarios. As has been shown in previous studies (e.g., Whittington and Beris, 2008), broader application of the MSDL standard requires extensions to the data model. The objectives of this effort are to examine the data definitions used in VBS2, to develop an XML schema description of that data, and to evaluate/recommend extensions needed in MSDL to accommodate the set of data used in VBS2 scenarios. The first two objectives are considered primary to the work; the third is a secondary objective to provide feedback to the M&S community to improve the MSDL (or other emerging) standard. Software will be developed to read and transform VBS2 content into XML files for archival storage and for interchange with other systems (i.e., across VBS2-specific data structures, the VBS2-specialized XML, and the extended MSDL structure). The work will include evaluation of force structure data from mission command systems to partially populate scenario initialization files, following recent advancements in the Rapid Data Generation program.

2.0 SCOPE

This is the first phase of a two-phase project to develop and apply an XML data structure for capturing VBS2 scenario content. The work involves systems analysis and data modeling using XML technologies. Phase 1 will focus on learning XML, XML schemas, and the Extensible Stylesheet Language for Transformations (XSLT), in addition to gaining familiarization with VBS2 data structures and MSDL. The work will produce an initial XML schema describing VBS2 scenario data content. This project largely will be performed by two Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) graduate students (one Marine, one Army) in the Modeling, Virtual Environments, and Simulation (MOVES) curriculum, with assistance from research faculty for technical instruction, consultation, software development, and laboratory support. The students will address specific and cross-cutting issues of their respective services to maximize benefits to scenario interchange and resource reuse across both services, while also investigating acquisition policy issues for future affordability and open competition.

3.0 TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR PHASE 1

NPS shall perform the following tasks:

  1. Investigate the use of XML, XML schemas, and XSLT for representing, storing, and exchanging VBS2 scenario data content. Provide instruction and technical support in XML and related technologies applicable to data modeling and data transformation.
  2. Examine VBS2 data files and program content to identify information relating to the description of scenarios. Include in the analysis VBS2 representation of force structures, performance parameters (weapons, vehicles, etc.), terrain, weather, behaviors, and other aspects of the simulated battlespace. Prepare a preliminary (Phase 1) XML schema structure for capturing VBS2 data.
  3. Evaluate application of existing standard XML formats such as MSDL to capture portions of the scenario data, identifying any extensions needed to more fully capture VBS2 content.
  4. Prepare a plan of action for Phase 2 efforts to complete the detailed XML specification of VBS2 data content and to develop software (parsing tool) for transforming VBS2 data to/from the specified XML structure.
  5. Perform project management and financial tracking. Provide periodic progress and status reports to the sponsor and other designated personnel/organizations.

4.0 DELIVERABLES

The following deliverables will be provided from the work performed:

  1. Preliminary XML schema describing VBS2 scenario data content. Due: At end of Phase 1 tasking.
  2. Informal technical report describing Phase 1 technical approach and study findings, and provides a plan of action for Phase 2. Due: At end of Phase 1 tasking.
  3. Monthly written technical progress and financial status reports. Due: End of first full month of project performance; end of each month thereafter to end of Phase 1 tasking.