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Analysis of SPDX compatibility with current SBOM proposal

Greetings all,


I completed a line by line comparison of the SPDX 2.2 UML model with the current SBOM model.  A draft of the results of the analysis are here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1s4TQN6DgfF6rup_5aQbySQpVrdaaK24ngnRmwqsmmXs/edit?usp=sharing


Feel free to review and comment.


I realize the document may not be very clear in places – it was taking me a lot more time than I had budgeted for the exercise and I thought it would be better to just get out something of a draft rather than waiting until it was more polished.


I found a number of incompatibilities; many were minor differences in the choice of attribute names and a few of there were more structural.


I summarized proposals for both changes to the SBOM model and the SPDX model at the beginning of the document.  All proposals are related to making the 2 models compatible in SPDX 3.0.  There are 31 proposed changes to the SBOM and 13 proposed changes to SPDX.  Since it is easier to change an unpublished standard than to create incompatibilities in existing documents and tools, I leaned more toward changes in the SBOM than changes in SPDX.  Please note that these proposals are my own and do not reflect the opinions of the SPDX community as a whole.  It is likely that these changes will require quite a bit of discussion within the SPDX community and may results in changes or counter-proposals.


There are a couple of categories of changes I would like to highlight:

  • Attribute names in SPDX tend to be unique so that they can be compatible with W3C/RDF existing and proposed vocabularies.  For example, using fileType rather than type within a File Content class allows the attribute to be easily associated with other uses of the term fileType even outside of SPDX.  This was a strong consideration during the SPDX development. 
  • The external document reference structure is different and I believe structurally incompatible.  I’m not sure I fully understand how the SBOM proposed approach will work with concrete documents.  This is something that should probably be discussed on a call.


Best regards,




Gary O'Neall

Principal Consultant

Source Auditor Inc.

Mobile: 408.805.0586