Scenario File Format-First Release
The Technology Section of the Society of Actuaries has proposed that a standard file format be adopted for the economic scenarios used in modeling for risk management and liability valuation. A standard format can facilitate the sharing of such scenarios between different modeling systems and save practicing actuaries time currently spent reformatting data.
The standard is based on XML, and is called EconSML for Economic Scenario Markup Language. The standard has gone through two exposure drafts and is now ready for initial release. This page provides access to documentation of the file format along with links to download software that is intended to help developers start working with the new format right away.
Indications of Support
Significant support for EconSML has been expressed. The following actuarial software vendors have given permission to publicly announce their intention to support the proposed standard file format.
AXIS, ALFA, Prophet, PTS, Towers Watson, Barrie and Hibbert.
Vendors of other packages are reviewing the proposal, and we are hoping that more indications of support can be announced in coming months...
Obtaining a Summary of EconSML
While EconSML is based on XML, there are several aspects to it that require extended explanations. A document (in MS Word) has been prepared to provide a description of EconSML along with some of the rationale behind its development. Download a complete description of EconSML.
In order to facilitate adoption of EconSML as a standard, a sample software library has been developed to facilitate use of scenario data within an actuarial model. Documentation of the library and its API (application programming interface) is available in two forms: a Developer's Guide (in MS Word form) and an API reference (a compiled HTML help file). The API reference refers to a C# class library, and is included with the sample software discussed below.
Obtaining and Installing Sample Software
Persons interested in working with EconSML can download and install a compiled software library (for use under Windows) along with source code and a sample Excel/VBA workbook that uses the library.
An installation program for Windows users can be initiated or downloaded by clicking here. The installation program will install the library and sample program along with complete source code and all documentation referred to above.
This installation program is for the August 7, 2010 version of the software, otherwise known as version 1.0. (Updates may later be made available on this page.)
Currently only one implementation of the library has been completely tested. It is implemented in C# and is for use under MS Windows .NET. Source code for a C++ implementation of a static library for use in native Windows is included with the installation package, but has not been fully tested.
Notes on Using the Sample Software
If you have installed one of the earlier exposure draft versions of the software, it is recommended that you un-install the previous version before installing this one. Un-installation can be done using the Add/Remove Programs facility in the Windows Control Panel.
If the Excel workbook does not work after installation, the user may need to do the following to ensure that Excel can find the needed libraries:
- Open the Excel spreadsheet
- Open the VBA editor
- Click on the menu item "Tools", then "References"
- In the references dialog, put a check mark before "Common Language Runtime Library" and "TSScenarioLib". If TSScenarioLib is shown as missing, then you may have installed the library in a location other than the default. If so, uncheck TSScenarioLib where it appears near the top of the list of references, and then look for TSScenarioLib where it appears again much later in the alphabetized list and click the checkbox in front of that one. Then click OK.
TSScenarioLib is the sample library for using EconSML. The "Common Language Runtime Library" is part of .NET and came as part of Windows starting with Windows XP. The sample library uses .NET version 2.0 or higher.
Commenting on EconSML
Comments on this release may lead to refinements and improvements in the definition of EconSML and the associated software modules. Comments regarding any of the material on this page should be e-mailed to ScenFmtComments@list.soa.org.