The UN/CEFACT Techniques and Methodology Group (TMG) recently approved the version 1.90 UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification for Step 6 'Implementation Verification' as defined in the UN/CEFACT/TRADE/22 Open Development Process for Technical Specifications. The Step 6 verification review period "is the most critical part of the development process as problems and issues are identified; the editing group collects the problems and issues identified from the implementors in order to further refine and improve the specification." According to a posting from Mark Crawford, Editor of the UN/CEFACT Core Components specification, "the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL), OAG, EAN-UCC, SWIFT, UN/CEFACT, ANSI ASC X12, and a host of other standards organizations are already using this new [Core Components] approach as the basis for building interoperable XML business standards; the Department of the Navy has included aspects of this specification in its XML Developers Guide, and it is referenced in the Federal XML Developers Guide as well." CCTS addresses the "lack of information interoperability between applications in the e-business arena. Traditionally, standards for the exchange of business data have been focused on static message definitions that have not enabled a sufficient degree of interoperability or flexibility. CCTS seeks to define a flexible and interoperable way of standardizing Business Semantics. The UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Component solution described in the CCTS specification presents a methodology for developing a common set of semantic building blocks that represent the general types of business data in use today and provides for the creation of new business vocabularies and restructuring of existing business vocabularies."
Bibliographic detail: UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification. Also CCTS. From UN/CEFACT, United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business. 11-December-2002. Version 1.90. 112 pages. Project Team Leader: Hartmut Hermes (Siemens). Lead Editor: Mark Crawford (Logistics Management Institute). Editing Team: Mike Adcock (APACS), Mary Kay Blantz (AIAG), Arofan Gregory (AEON Consulting), Alan Stitzer (Marsh, Inc.), Frank Vandamme (SWIFT), and James Whittle (eCentre). Developed in accordance with the UN/CEFACT/TRADE/22 Open Development Process for Technical Specifications. Approved by the (UN/CEFACT) Techniques and Methodology Group (TMG) for implementation verification as defined in Step 6 of the Open Development Process.
UN/CEFACT Open Development Process Step 6 (Implementation Verification): "After approval by the working group, the final specification and its disposition log will be posted to the UN/CEFACT Web site to allow verification through implementation. Implementors (especially those who contributed to the working draft) are encouraged to verify the validity of the technical specifications by implementing them. The verification review period is the most critical part of the development process as problems and issues are identified. The editing group collects the problems and issues identified from the implementors in order to further refine and improve the specification. As changes are made, the updated document and disposition log will be forwarded to the implementors, as well as being re-published on the Web site. This step will be completed when least at two independent implementations report successful implementation, which is confirmed by the project team." (from the Guide)
Importance of CCTS. A posting from Mark Crawford, Editor of the UN/CEFACT Core Components specification, highlights of the role of the UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification in other standards efforts: "The OASIS UBL, OAG, EAN-UCC, SWIFT, UN/CEFACT, ANSI ASC X12 and a host of other standards organizations are already using this new approach as the basis for building interoperable XML business standards. The Department of the Navy has included aspects of this specification in its XML Developers Guide, and it is referenced in the Federal XML Developers Guide as well... [I recently gave an invited presentation on] UBL, as a plenary speaker at last weeks XML 2002 conference. During my speach I talked about how UBL was using the CCTS to create its schemas..." From Section 3 of the XML 2002 presentation, on the UBL Relationship to ebXML Core Components:
ebXML Core Components provide a "set of the lowest common denominator that captures information about a real world (business) concept. Core Components are neutral (a) in the notation for every kind of industry, and (b) in the syntax for every kind of business document standard or implementation... Core Components supplies reusable pieces (objects) of contents that can be atomic or aggregate: (a) Enables interoperability among different industry domains and areas; (b) Are using common semantic units at any level consistent across context; (c) Hold any related information together and avoiding fragmented semantic dispersal; (d) Facilitate multilingual support. Core Components are accompanied by methodology for extensibility which (a) enable users to define meaningful business and process data and (b) ensure maximum interoperability... The Core Components Specification follows ISO 11179, which governs data dictionaries (defines the notions of object class, property, and representation term)..."
Core Components Technical Specification Highlights
[Adapted from the version 1.9 specification Introduction]
CCTS addresses the "lack of information interoperability between applications in the e-business arena. Traditionally, standards for the exchange of business data have been focused on static message definitions that have not enabled a sufficient degree of interoperability or flexibility. CCTS seeks to define a flexible and interoperable way of standardizing Business Semantics."
The UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Component solution described in this specification presents a methodology for developing a common set of semantic building blocks that represent the general types of business data in use today and provides for the creation of new business vocabularies and restructuring of existing business vocabularies.
This Core Components Technical Specification provides a way to identify, capture and maximise the re-use of business information to support and enhance information interoperability across multiple business situations. The specification focuses both on human-readable and machine-processable representations of this information.
The Core Components approach described in this document is more flexible than current standards in this area because the semantic standardisation is done in a syntax-neutral fashion. Using Core Components as part of the ebXML framework will help to ensure that two trading partners using different syntaxes [e.g., XML and United Nations/EDI for Administration, Commerce, and Transport (UN/EDIFACT)] are using Business Semantics in the same way on condition that both syntaxes have been based on the same Core Components. This enables clean mapping between disparate message definitions across syntaxes, industry and regional boundaries.
UN/CEFACT Business Process and Core Component solutions capture a wealth of information about the business reasons for variation in message semantics and structure. In the past, such variations have introduced incompatibilities. The Core Components mechanism uses this rich information to allow identification of exact similarities and differences between semantic models. Incompatibility becomes incremental rather than wholesale, i.e., the detailed points of difference are noted, rather than a whole model being dismissed as incompatible.
The key differentiator between Core Components and Business Information Entities is the concept of Business Context. Business Context is a mechanism for qualifying and refining Core Components according to their use under particular business circumstances. Once Business Contexts are identified, Core Components can be differentiated to take into account any necessary qualification and refinement needed to support the use of the Core Component in the given Business Context. The Business Process definition provides a high level description of the use of a message and its contents.
This UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification can be employed wherever business information is being shared or exchanged amongst and between enterprises, governmental agencies, and/or other organisations in an open and worldwide environment. The Core Components User Community consists of business people, business document modellers and business data modellers, Business Process modellers, and application developers of different organisations that require interoperability of business information. This interoperability covers both interactive and batch exchanges of business data between applications through the use of Internet and Web based information exchanges as well as traditional Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) systems.
This specification will form the basis for standards development work of business analysts, business users and information technology specialists supplying the content of and implementing applications that will employ the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library (CCL). The Core Component Library will be stored in a UN/CEFACT repository and identified in an ebXML compliant registry.
Due to the evolving nature of the UN/CEFACT Core Component Library, the specification includes material that focuses on the business community doing further discovery and analysis work. Some of the contents of this specification are not typical of this type of technical document. However, they are critical for successful adoption and standardization in this area to move forward.
The UN/CEFACT Forum will prepare supplemental documents that may be used in conjunction with this Core Components Technical Specification. These supplemental documents will include:
- Message Assembly -- expands on the Assembly principles and Constraints Language contained in the Core Components Technical Specification and provides specific methodology for assembling higher level Business Information Entities for electronic messages.
- Core Components Primer -- details how the contents of [CCTS] Sections 5, 6, and 7 would be used in practice to create a library of Core Components and Business Information Entities.
- Catalogue of Core Components -- represents the work of various organizations working in a joint endeavour to develop and publish semantically correct and meaningful information exchange parcels.
Key Core Component Concepts
The central concept of this specification is the Core Component. A Core Component is building block for the creation of a semantically correct and meaningful information exchange package. It contains only the information pieces necessary to describe a specific concept.
There are four different categories of Core Components: Basic Core Component, Association Core Component, Core Component Type and Aggregate Core Component.
A 'Basic Core Component (BCC)' is a Core Component which constitutes a singular business characteristic of a specific Aggregate Core Component that represents an Object Class. It has a unique Business Semantic definition. A Basic Core Component represents a Basic Core Component Property and is therefore of a Data Type, which defines its set of values. Basic Core Components function as the Properties of Aggregate Core Components.
An 'Association Core Component (ASCC)' is a Core Component which constitutes a complex business characteristic of a specific Aggregate Core Component that represents an Object Class. It has a unique Business Semantic definition. An Association Core Component represents an Association Core Component Property and is associated to an Aggregate Core Component, which describes its structure.
A 'Core Component Type (CCT)' is a Core Component which consists of one and only one Content Component, that carries the actual content plus one or more Supplementary Components giving an essential extra definition to the Content Component. Core Component Types do not have Business Semantics.
An 'Aggregate Core Component' is a collection of related pieces of business information that together convey a distinct business meaning, independent of any specific Business Context. Expressed in modelling terms, it is the representation of an Object Class, independent of any specific Business Context.
Core Components and Business Information Entity. ebXML is compiling a set of common business document components for basic business information such as addresses, products, trading parties, and the like. A core component used in a particular business context is called a business information entity (BIE). BIEs can be assembled into business document forms (purchase orders, invoices, etc.), and these forms, when populated with data, become interoperable business documents... A 'Business Information Entity (BIE)' is a piece of business data or a group of pieces of business data with a unique Business Semantic definition. A Business Information Entity can be a Basic Business Information Entity (BBIE), an Association Business Information Entity (ASBIE), or an Aggregate Business Information Entity (ABIE)... A specific relationship exists between Core Components and Business Information Entities. Core Components and Business Information Entities are complementary in many respects. Core Components are intended to be the linchpin for creating interoperable Business Process models and business documents using a Controlled Vocabulary. There are three different categories of Business Information Entities: Basic Business Information Entity, Association Business Information Entity, and Aggregate Business Information Entity. The most primitive of these is the Basic Business Information Entity. A Basic Business Information Entity is a Basic Core Component used in a specific Business Context..." See also the XML 2002 presentation "UBL: The Next Step for Global E-Commerce."
- UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification. 11-December-2002. Step 6 Implementation Verification. [source .ZIP, cache]
- "Universal Business Language: Realizing eBusiness XML." By Mark Crawford (Logistics Management Institute; Vice Chair, OASIS UBL TC). Presented at XML 2002. 60 slides. Also in (source) .PPT format. Section 3 describes the UBL Relationship to ebXML Core Components.
- "Core Components Technical Specification." Posting 2002-12-19 by Mark Crawford (Logistics Management Institute).
- "Schema Rules for UBL... and Maybe for You." By Eve Maler (Sun Microsystems). Presented at the XML 2002 Conference. 12-December-2002. 46 pages. Treats especially XML Schema design rules for UBL. Pages 15-18 cover the UBL's mapping to the ebXML Core Components model. See in greater detail "UBL's Connection to Core Components in the online paper (IDEAlliance).
- User Guide to UN/CEFACT's Open Development Process for Technical Specifications. Outlines the UN/CEFACT Step by Step Process.
- eBTWG website. Provides references to some of the activities of the Core Components Specification Project Team
- TMG's File Sharing Site. Active as of 2002-12. Location of all public UN/CEFACT's Techniques and Methodologies Group documents. Maintained by Klaus-Dieter Naujok.
- UN/CEFACT Techniques & Methodologies Working Group (TMWG)
- "UN/CEFACT Releases ebXML Core Component Technical Specification for Second Public Review." News item 2002-10-01.
- "DON [US Department of Navy] Policy on the Use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) of December 2002." December 13, 2002. 19 pages. References UN/CEFACT Core Components specification.
- ebXML website
- OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) TC website
- Related effort: OAGI Core Components Work Group. See the posting from Michael Rowell (Chief Architect, Open Applications Group) and the discussion thread on Core Components.
- "Electronic Business XML Initiative (ebXML)" - Main reference page.