The EPCIS Master Data is organized into a list of entry types –e.g. EPC Classes, Business Locations, Read Points, Business Steps and so on- but has been defined from the start as a “anything” repository. All entries are organized into an id, then an unlimited list of attributes (name-value pair), and according to the standard, extension points in addition.
In Fosstrak implementation, only simple attributes are supported for values (string, integer, etc –not XML or JSON for instance). There is no support for complex extensions yet.
So, to answer your questions:
can I really use any attribute id I like?
--> yes, any attribute name can be injected
is there a commonly accepted set that it's sensible to use?
--> yes, the latest Core Business Vocabulary standard at http://www.gs1.org/epcis provides a list of sensible attribute names to use
is there any guidance around this?
--> GS1 has prepared a generic guideline which should be published soon (they are in the final review phase).
You may also find some vertical-specific guidelines at http://www.gs1.org/epcis
also, why do some ids contain "epcis", some "cbv", some "fmcg", and some are actually http:// URIs?
--> well, this is history. Initially, the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (fmcg) workgroup at GS1 proposed a common vocabulary for the first pilots and implementations. Then the EPCIS standard was released, shortly followed by the Core Business Vocabulary (cbv) standard, which also proposed alternates URIs such as http://.
I would add that you can also find entries from national implementations (US FDA, Brazil national rules for medicines tracking), plus vocabularies coming from EDI and B2B standards such as ISO’s, OASIS UBL, and so on.
The typical first step when you want to use an EPCIS is to describe your business processes and vocabulary.
Check if any vocabulary (and associated XML dialects) are already used in the organization where you plan to implement an EPCIS, and re-use them whenever you can. This will ease integration with existing systems.
Otherwise I suggest you use Core Business Vocabulary as a common base (FMCG is outdated).
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