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Created: July 29, 2002.
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ANSI ASC X12 Document Proposes Reference Model for XML Electronic Business Messages.

A document ASC X12 Reference Model for XML Design has been published by ANSI's Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12, detailing a proposed reference model for electronic business messages based on XML. The document "proposes features of XML to use in e-business messages, and offers design principles for organizing business data into modularly flexible messages using XML. The reference model is built on the Electronic Business XML (ebXML) standards developed by OASIS and UN/CEFACT, specifically the specifications on semantic interoperability called core components. ASC X12 is also collaborating with OASIS's Universal Business Language Technical Committee that is developing XML schemas for standard business messages. With numerous innovations, ASC X12's reference model takes into consideration existing roadblocks to EDI implementation and standards development, new technologies, requirements defined by industry groups developing XML specifications, small-to-medium-sized company requirements, and the general marketplace. Some of the core benefits of the reference model include: (1) The Document Assembly Model, which enables users to take reusable components that can then be assimilated into a new document; (2) The Granularity Model, which turns subjective decisions in EDI into clear content decisions for both structure and semantic reuse; (3) Modular flexibility and designed autonomy, which provide both the ability to achieve application integration for industry-specific application and flexibility to achieve cross-industry solutions and interoperability; (4) Semantically specific standards, eliminating the EDI requirement for supplementary 'how to implement' bilateral agreements."

Bibliographic information: ASC X12 Reference Model For XML Design. ASC X12C/TG3/2002-xxx. From the ANSI ASC X12C Communications and Controls Subcommittee. Technical Report Type II. July 2002. 106 pages. Copyright Data Interchange Standards Association, Inc. (DISA).

From the abstract:

This Reference Model was motivated by the action item that X12's Communications and Controls Subcommittee (X12C) took at the August 2001 XML Summit to develop "draft design rules for ASC X12 XML Business Document development." Acting on that action item, X12C's EDI Architecture Task Group (X12C/TG3) determined that XML design rules could not be developed without a basis for determining which XML features to use and how to use them. Thus the group also set about developing a philosophical foundation and putting forth some general design principles. This Reference Model covers those topics in addition to a preliminary set of design rules.

The approach discussed herein is a work in progress. It is intended to be the foundation for X12's future XML development, and will become the basis for XML equivalents to the X12 syntax based X12.6 and X12.59, and XML Design Rules. It is consistent with the decisions of X12's Steering Committee to develop its XML work within the ebXML framework.

From the Introduction: "This Technical Report addresses the semantic and syntactic representation of data assembled into business messages. The semantic representation defines an overall architectural model and refines the model to an abstract level of detail sufficient to guide the message development process. The syntactic representation utilizes features of the target syntax, while imposing semantic-to-syntax mapping rules and syntax constraints intended to simplify the task of interfacing business messages to business information systems and processes."

From the announcement: "Peter D. Pruyne of SysCom Strategies and chair of the X12 subcommittee on communications and controls that oversees the working group said, 'The reference model offers companies a way to reuse their business data across different electronic documents in their own industries, yet still provides for interoperability across industries. This group succeeded in taking the best of recent e-business standards based on XML while still building on the two decades of business experience accumulated by EDI practitioners.' [Said Mike Rawlins of Rawlins EC Consulting who chaired the group that prepared the report:] 'This reference model provides guidelines for ASC X12 in its standards work, but our team of technical specialists and business experts wrote it as well for companies and industries seeking guidance on writing electronic business messages; the document provides for structure and stability in business messages, but also flexibility to meet the complexity of business and changing business conditions'..."

Public comments on X12 Reference Model for XML Design: "As a Type 2 Technical Report Reference Model, only the developing subcommittee, X12/C, and the Technical Assessment subcommittee are required to review and approve this document. However, in the interest of informing and receiving comment from the widest possible audience and in keeping with the commitments made to XML Summit participants, this version of the document is offered for public review and comment. All comments are welcome, but the deadline for having comments considered for the next version of the document is August 2, 2002. Comments received after this deadline will be considered but may not be incorporated in the next version. The Preferred method for submitting comments is by use of the online comment submission form, but if necessary comments may be sent as an attachment to"

About ASC X12: "The Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 develops standards for cross-industry electronic exchange of business information. During the past 20 years, ASC X12 made the first generation of e-commerce standards a reality. Today, more then 300,000 companies have saved billions of dollars and expanded their market reach by incorporating Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) into their business operations and trading partner relationships. Today, ASC X12's members include companies shaping the new global economy and pioneering the next generation of cross-industry, interoperable e-commerce standards. They are leveraging X12's 20+ years of cross-industry standards and semantics development to incorporate XML business syntax, actively participating in key international standards development initiatives, and modeling key business processes within an Internet-based e-commerce environment."

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