SWISS Federal Railways (SBB) has built a demonstration ticketing app using the newly developed Open Sales and Distribution Model (OSDM) Application Programming Interface (API) in seven days as a showcase of the specification’s capabilities.

OSDM aims to substantially simplify and improve the booking process for passengers using public transport and to lower the complexity and distribution costs for distributors and operators. OSDM is jointly developed by the members of International Union of Railways (UIC) and ticket vendors with the members of EU Travel Tech and the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association.

SBB challenged Mr Hoang Tran, an Android developer at the railway who had no prior experience with the system, to develop an application using the API within a week. The app developed by Hoang covers the complete booking process, including the reservation of seats and ancillary services, and supports rail, bus and other means of public transport. The app is developed without any backend, directly using the API, and can be used on phones running Android or iOS as well as online.

The app is connected to the OSDM sandbox environment developed by Sqills, which is powered by the Sqills S3 Passenger inventory, reservation and ticketing Software as a Service (SaaS) system. The sandbox is a working prototype which enables the study of the behaviour and semantics of the OSDM API and UIC says this is open to any party interested in implementing OSDM.

“While we were quite confident that our API was consistent and feature-rich, we were unsure how intuitive or difficult the API is to consume, especially for somebody not related to the field of online distribution,” says SBB architect and tech lead - OSDM, Mr Andreas Schlapbach. “The app developed by Hoang in such a short timeframe is astonishing and shows that results can be achieved and that the API can easily be consumed by any party. It also shows that the API is well-documented, consistent and ready for use.”

To enable other parties to develop distribution frontend systems, SBB will make the app publicly available on GitHub within the next few weeks.

“This first new UIC protocol implementation by SBB, and their creation of an OSDM customer app, demonstrates the usefulness of OSDM for an operator in the heart of Europe and using latest digital technologies,” says UIC passenger director, Mr Marc Guigon. “UIC congratulates SBB and especially Hoang Tran on this achievement and fully supports this sector initiative with the aim of improving international passenger travel.”