The laboratory side of a digital dental workflow consists of heterogeneous software tools including digitization (scanning), modeling (CAD), production planning (CAM) and production. The heterogeneity can be structured in two dimensions: ‘various partial systems’, composing the dental product development system and ‘various vendors’, offering software solutions for these partial systems. As a result the value creation process lacks efficiency and different input/output data streams are still necessary. As a standard for the representation of geometric data the STL format has been established, whereas for additional information, such as organizational and administrative data, as well as requirements and design data, the XML (eXtensible Markup Language) format is considered appropriate. However, a variety of proprietary XML data formats have been developed by system vendors. Thus incompatibilities are a significant source for errors. Data flow structures as available today only allow unidirectional flow of information ‘downstream’.

A new approach is based on a federative workflow data management. The basic concept is a unified XML scheme that represents data about all activities and states of dental objects created throughout the whole cycle of dental process. The new unified XML scheme provides a data structure, which can be adapted for the respective input/output data streams of all partial systems. The XML scheme represents a unified data scheme which allows both vertical (within a certain partial system class) and horizontal (along the digital dental workflow and independent of system vendor) data usage. Each dental system supplier only needs to create one input and output filter for the neutral XML interface. The system architecture is based on a web server to which a XML database server is connected. The XML database server manages project specific XML databases. Data can be made available through REST-, as well as through WebDAV-interface on LAN or WAN. With the help of XPath and XQuery required data can be extracted from the database. Redundant data input as well as incompatibility errors can be avoided by this approach.

The innovative core is a unified workflow data format, in which a bidirectional data flow can be provided for both downstream and upstream, along the digital dental workflow.

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