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When the National Association of REALTORS® mandated last fall that every NAR affiliated MLS must adopt the RESO Data Dictionary by January 1, 2016 we knew we had a herculean task ahead of us. Ever since, RESO has been working tirelessly to facilitate testing to enable industry wide adoption of the Data Dictionary and we’re excited about the progress. But we also know that adoption is really only just the beginning.

Realizing the full impact of the real estate’s industry’s “Rosetta Stone” for property data fields, the RESO Data Dictionary, like new standards implemented in any industry, is going to take years. It’s really a breathing, living, evolving process that will be tweaked and improved along the way, and its ongoing maintenance will be crucial for its long-term success.

That’s the motivation behind the creation of the new RESO Data Dictionary Wiki. RESO wanted to provide a way for a typical industry practitioner – a broker, agent, appraiser or any non-technical MLS or association staff member – to get directly involved with the Data Dictionary. A Wiki would allow a quick, fast and easy way for any non-Geek to go in and explore all of the facets of the RESO Data Dictionary as well as contribute to its future through collaboration.

We asked Rob Larson, the Chief Information Officer of the nation’s largest Multiple Listing Service, CRMLS, and chair of the RESO Data Dictionary Workgroup, to describe how the Data Dictionary came about.

“Abraham Lincoln and I were having lunch one day when he said, ‘You should build a wiki!'” Larson chided. “Okay, that’s more akin to a Bill and Ted Adventure, but the lunch part was true. I was eating with some of our brokers at a monthly meeting and getting their input on things as usual when the wiki and formalizing that input came to me. Wouldn’t it be great to have a platform that practitioners of real estate sales could look at these fields and enumerations, and their definitions, and give us input?” he added.

Larson says he always liked how easy it is to contribute to Wikipedia and admired its workflow setup. “Being able to participate in a national forum, to have my thoughts heard on that scale, should have an enticing quality to help draw in some of the better real estate business minds in our industry.”

Before the creation of this new Wiki, all the Data Dictionary data fields and related information has been limited to basically an online spreadsheet. While all of the information is there, opening this gauntlet of a spreadsheet for the first time would feel overwhelming right out of the gate. It’s difficult to navigate and challenging to find what you are looking for, so Larson and others wanted to find a better way to make an inside look into the Data Dictionary more user friendly.

Larson says he began the discussion with Bob Gottesman, former RESO Executive Director, who would help craft the detailed plans for the new Wiki. “Bob dove right in and has been an incredible driving force in the creation of the Wiki,” Larson said. “It has been exciting to see it taking shape and how well the different information within the Wiki is interconnected. Bob has created a great workflow,” he added.

Now after several months of development, the RESO Data Dictionary Wiki will soon be launched. The Wiki helps decode all of these new property fields and related values, making them easy to find and rapidly discover each field’s related terms. This is a big one because property fields can have synonyms, or related fields. Using the new Data Dictionary Wiki, if the property field has a related term, it is displayed under the Synonym(s) field.

The new Data Dictionary Wiki is based on version 1.4, which means it will feature not just the 239 core fields, but all 876 fields defined in the dictionary. It really features a plethora of information. By simply clicking on a field, each data field is full explained. Shown is the related Group, data type (numbers, string list, Boolean, etc.), suggested maximum length, synonyms, if the field is active, the Certification level of each field: Core, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum. It also includes Property Type (residential, land, farm, etc.), the payload type, its status change date and its revised date.

The new Wiki includes the primary Data Dictionary Resources (Categories) that will be the highlight of ordering and grouping in the Wiki. This includes: Property, Member, Office, Contacts (these are typically called Prospects in an MLS System, aka “leads”), Media, History Transactional (historical property details), Saved Search, Open House, Teams as well as Payloads such as IDX.

Fields within the Data Dictionary are grouped within their respective Resource. For fields that are defined as “pick lists,” they will contain lookup values, also known as enumerated items. For the user, using the Wiki means it is far easier to navigate and allows someone to quickly find what they need. For example, if you are using the Wiki to search for interior features, a list would be generated that includes items such as energy efficient windows, hardwood floors, etc. This same process, using a spreadsheet, would prove less efficient and, in some instances, painful.

Overall, this new Wiki includes 1400 data points all organized on one displayed result to give the user a comprehensive review of each data field and everything that is related to that field.

Like all Wikis, this one will grow and be expanded greatly over time. Its most exciting feature is the comment box that is available for RESO members to provide below each listed term. This makes the new RESO Data Dictionary Wiki a living document, subject to constant change and improvement. The goal is for this new data source to become the “one-stop shop” for Data Dictionary change requests. This crowd sourcing method also ensures that the most current information will always be just a click away.

Because a Wiki provides for a collaborative environment, the RESO Data Dictionary Wiki is going to be made available publically. Any user (public or RESO members) can suggest comments to a Data Dictionary Item. RESO staff will review public comments before being posted. We’re currently putting the finishing touches on it and plan to roll it out in the next couple of months. It’s tools like these that will continue to support and grow the RESO Data Dictionary throughout many months and years ahead, to facilitate more innovation and help maximize the efficiency of real estate transactions.