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Created: January 27, 2003.
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UBL Technical Committee Releases First Draft of XML Schemas for Electronic Trade.

A posting from Jon Bosak (UBL TC Chair) announces the publication of XML Schemas and related documentation for the Universal Business Language (UBL), released as the "first draft of a royalty-free data representation standard" for electronic business documents. "Intended to become international standards for electronic trade, the UBL schemas contained in the review package specify machine-readable XML representations of familiar business documents. The seven basic documents covered in this release include Order, Order Response, Simple Order Response, Order Cancellation, Despatch Advice, Receipt Advice, and Invoice. Together, they can be used to implement a generic buy/sell relationship or supply chain whose components fit existing trade agreements and are immediately understandable by workers in business, supply-chain management (SCM), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), accounting, customs, taxation, and shipping. These generic schemas are intended to work in a wide variety of business contexts through custom extensions. Automated context configuration will be addressed in a later phase of the effort. The schemas are also designed be used in their generic form in many ordinary business contexts without further modification." The OASIS UBL Library Content Subcommittee requests implementation feedback on these schemas based upon experimental prototypes; the comment period extends through April 14, 2003.


The first draft of a royalty-free data representation standard for electronic commerce has been released by the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee.

The business context in which the generic document types are designed to function is detailed in the materials accompanying the release. Other documentation includes the entire semantic model on which the schemas are based, a description of the methodology by which the schemas were created, and UML diagrams to aid in software design. The package also contains alternative ASN.1 specifications for the UBL schemas that allow ASN.1 tools to be used for UBL document transfers. Additional supplementary materials will be made available in a following package update to be announced separately.

The UBL schemas reflect a number of inputs, the most important of which are the commercial xCBL schemas from Commerce One and SAP; the ebXML Core Components Specification; early XSL stylesheet implementations; and early feedback from the UBL Liaisons. UBL schema design follows the UBL Naming and Design Rules developed by the UBL NDR Subcommittee. The definition of UBL semantic content, based on existing practice in EDI and electronic marketplaces, has taken place in close alignment with ebXML Core Components methodology to ensure optimal integration into the ebXML semantic registry.

As works in progress, the materials in the Library Content 0p70 Public Review package do not yet have the status of an OASIS Standard or an OASIS Committee Specification. The construction of experimental prototypes based on these materials is encouraged for the purpose of generating input back to the committee process, but implementers are strongly advised against basing commercial or mission-critical applications on the draft specifications.

The OASIS UBL Library Content Subcommittee invites interested parties to comment on this release directly to the Library Content Subcommittee Editor, Bill Meadows, using the recommended feedback form.

[See the announcement for context.]


From the UBL Public Review Release Introduction: "The Universal Business Language (UBL) Library is:

  • An XML-based business language
  • Built upon existing EDI and XML business-to-business vocabularies
  • Applicable across all industry sectors and domains of electronic trade
  • Designed to be modular, reusable, and extensible
  • Non-proprietary and royalty-free

The Library has been designed as a collection of object classes and associations expressed as a conceptual model. Specific document types are then assembled from these business information entities (BIES) by organizing them into a specific hierarchy. These hierarchical models are then transformed using the UBL Naming and Design rules [see NDRSC] into XML Schema syntax. The analysis and design processes developed by the UBL Library Content team are described in Annex A.

The UBL library is intended for use in business data contexts beyond the specific set of document types provided in this specification. For the purposes of this release, Section 5 below describes the scenario and choreography used in developing this set of documents. For example, the document Order Response may have a limited application, but the re-usable components Party and Item will have relevance to many applications."

UBL Mission

"The purpose of the UBL TC is to develop a standard library of XML business documents (purchase orders, invoices, etc.) by modifying an already existing library of XML schemas to incorporate the best features of other existing XML business libraries. The TC will then design a mechanism for the generation of context-specific business schemas through the application of transformation rules to the common UBL source library. UBL is intended to become an international standard for electronic commerce freely available to everyone without licensing or other fees."

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