[This local archive copy is from the official and canonical URL, http://www.cenorm.be/isss/workshop/ec/xmledi/xml005.html; please refer to the canonical source document if possible.]





CEN/ISSS Electronic Commerce Workshop



European XML/EDI Pilot Project

Terms of Reference


By Martin Bryan


For Information

CEN/ISSS Electronic Commerce Workshop



European XML/EDI Pilot Project

Terms of Reference


Version: Draft 1.0

Date: 98-06-05

Status: As approved by CEN/ISSS EC Workshop


1) Title of the Project Team to be established

European XML/EDI Pilot Project

2) Subject and Scope

To test the applicability XML for interchanging data, between SMEs and their business partners, of the type currently exchanged using EDI messages.

3) Justification for project

XML is the next generation language for the interchange of information over the World Wide Web (WWW). XML/EDI is focused on standardization aspects of integrating EDI with the emerging XML technology. Integration would enable EDI information to be exchanged in a computer processable format based on XML-coded electronic files. XML/EDI would allow organizations to deploy smarter, cheaper and more maintainable systems to a global audience. It is equally accessible to small business as to large corporations.

The international XML/EDI Group has developed a set of draft Guidelines for the use of XML for EDI. These Guidelines need to be tested in a European scenario to ensure that they are adequate to meet the multilingual and mixed trading practices found in Europe.

A number of European EDI projects are currently reviewing the relevance of XML to their work, especially in the following areas:

Statistical data interchange, as being employed at EuroStat and in a proposed pilot project in the Norwegian public sector. EBES EEG6, Statistics, are interested in the applicability of this work across Europe.
Transport services data interchange, as proposed in the XML/EDI pilot project being co-ordinated by TIEKE in Finland for the interchange of messages between transport companies and their clients. This project is of relevance throughout Europe, and will help the EBES EEG2 Transport group to determine the relevance of XML to their user community.
Healthcare informatics, as proposed by CEN TC251 and the developers of the HL7 standards. This work is also of relevance to EBES EEG9, which is responsible for the standardization of healthcare EDIFACT messages.
Electronic forms, as being developed by EDIFRANCE
Simple EDI as developed by UK/CEFACT.

The project team will liaise with these initiatives to determine how their findings can be made generally applicable and more widely known.

The project team will seek to liaise with the Joint CommerceNet/X12 XML Workgroup created in February 1998, who are looking at the interface between XML and X12. This work is complementary to activity on the public mailing list on XML and EDIFACT established by W3C in April 1998, with whom the project team will similarly seek liaison.

The Finnish National Standards Body, SFS, has signalled its willingness to provide the secretariate function for the project.

This project is supported by key members of the international XML/EDI Group. The European members of this Group have contacts with both the CommerceNet/X12 and W3C XML activities referenced above, and are actively monitoring their activities.

4) Reference authority

CEN/ISSS Electronic Commerce Workshop


5) General context/Background/Environment

XML is a new W3C standard that allows users of the HTML specification currently used to mark up documents that are to form part of the World Wide Web to extend their systems to include user-defined markup tags. Documents can either be well-formed (marked up according to the rules of XML but not validated against a formal model) or validated against a data model defined in a computer-readable document type definition (DTD).

Most new proposals for the interchange of data and/or metadata over the Internet are being defined in terms of XML. XML is already being used in a number of projects for the interchange of commercial data between consumers and suppliers. At present, however, there are few proposals for the use of XML to control the interchange of commercial information between businesses over the Internet. This is making it difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to take advantage of the interconnectivity provided by the Internet as part of their long term business strategy.

The XML/EDI Group was set up to determine how the expertise built up by the EDI community over many years of study into the problems of business-to-business communication could best be expressed in terms of XML. Their goal is to allow EDI-based transactions to be integrated with other types of communication currently taking place over the Internet to form a virtual electonic environment for business transactions.

The XML/EDI Group is documenting techniques that will allow existing EDI

messages to be converted to XML for display on standard Internet document

browsers, and for converting XML messages based on EDI-compatible data

components into appropriate EDI messages. At the same time the group is

looking at how data from XML messages can be integrated with the databases

and internal business processes used at a client (data generator) site,

something which is currently difficult for EDI users. The main thrust of the

XML/EDI Group approach is that the translation process should be as

automated as possible and that the processes developed should be

sufficiently simple to be implementable by an SME who does not have in-house

IT expertise.

6) Work plan, including duration and target dates

See the draft Project Plan. The project will be completed 18 months after the project start, which will be determined by the way in which the project can be funded

7) Manpower

To be determined when detailed plans have been completed. Around 500 man-days of work is expected to be required.

8) Expected deliverables


XML document type definitions (DTDs) for a sequence of related messages.
Documentation explaining the use of selected XML messages, and the relationship between their use and those of equivalent EDI messages.
Publication of a report detailing any problems encountered while preparing the DTDs. In particular to consider the relevance of this process to the development of some general guidelines on the use of XML for EDI, such as those published by The XML/EDI Group in the Guidelines for the use of XML for Electronic Data Interchange.
Set up a web site and discussion list on which the EDI community can discuss the use of XML.


A demonstration system that will allow users to:
  1. create XML messages that conform to the relevant DTDs by accessing information stored in relevant databases and/or prompting users to input data;
  2. receive XML messages, check that they conform to relevant DTDs and contain valid data, display the message in a form that is meaningful to the SME (e.g. in local language and style) and load information into the user's database as required;
  3. allow information to be submitted to third parties for further processing and provide the necessary message workflow/maintenance facilities to ensure that the correct sequences of messages have been sent/received.
Provide an XML/EDI message type validation mechanism, and mechanisms for creating registries of approved document type definitions.
Provide relevant project management co-ordination facilities through the development of a support centre that can link XML/EDI projects and their deliverables.
Development of a recommendations and issues list for consideration by the editors of guidelines, such as those being developed by The XML/EDI Group.
Analysis of existing and planned activities with respect to the findings of the project and related pilots.
Preparation and dissemination of CWA describing the project, its results and findings.

The deliverables will be neutral in that all will be allowed to contribute and all will be encouraged to provide input on an equal basis within the resources of the project.



Last update: 10 August, 1998