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|Universal Business Language (UBL) Version 1.0 Approved as an OASIS Standard.|
OASIS has announced the approval of the Universal Business Language (UBL) Version 1.0 as an OASIS Standard. UBL "defines a common XML library of business documents, such as purchase orders and invoices, as well as reusable data components from which an unlimited number of other documents can be constructed. UBL is the first standard implementation of the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification."
Developed within the OASIS Universal Business Language Technical Committee and numerous subcommitteees, UBL "is the product of an international effort to define a royalty-free library of standard electronic XML business documents. UBL is designed to plug directly into existing business, legal, auditing, and records management practices, eliminating the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based supply chains and providing an entry point into electronic commerce for small and medium-sized businesses."
The UBL Library has been designed "as an implementation of ebXML Core Components Technical Specification 2.01, based on a conceptual model of information components known as Business Information Entities (BIEs). These core components are assembled into specific document models such as Order and Invoice. These document assembly models are then transformed in accordance with UBL Naming and Design Rules into W3C XSD schema syntax. This approach facilitates the creation of UBL-based document types beyond those specified in this 1.0 release. UBL schemas thus are modular, reusable, and extensible in XML-aware ways."
Jon Bosak, Co-Chair of the OASIS UBL TC, cites "agreement on a common set of business-to-business document standards" as an essential element in successful electronic commerce: "UBL provides the world with standard electronic versions of traditional business documents designed to integrate with established commercial and legal practices. Using UBL, businesses of all sizes can enjoy the benefits of electronic commerce."
According to TC Co-Chair Mark Crawford, the core components methodology implemented in UBL "is embodied in the soon to be announced" ebXML Core Components Technical Specification (ISO/TS 15000-5 ebCCTS). "This methodology, in addition to being used by UBL, is also being followed by other international standards bodies such as UN/CEFACT. This approach has also been adopted by the Department of the Navy and several Presidential Management Agenda initiatives."
UBL design benefited from liaison relationships with many collateral standards efforts and industry groups. It was "developed in harmony with ebXML OASIS Standards and in light of recommendations and standards issued by ISO, IEC, ITU, UNECE, W3C, IETF, and other relevant standards bodies and organizations. Industry groups including ACORD (insurance), ARTS (retail sales), CompTIA EIDX Leadership Group (electronics), HL7 (health care), NACS (convenience stores), RosettaNet (supply chain), UIG (utilities), VCA (prescription eyewear), and XBRL (accounting) all provided input on UBL."
UBL also has an international focus: to "promote global adoption of the new OASIS Standard, members of the OASIS UBL Localization Subcommittees have produced draft translations of UBL 1.0 data definitions into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish. Together with the original English definitions, these translations will make UBL usable to approximately two-thirds of the world's current online population."
UBL TC members contributing to the OASIS Standard "include representatives of Accountis plc, ACORD, Asociación Nacional de Fabricantes Autoridad de Certificació, The Boeing Company, Center for Document Engineering, Denmark Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation, East Asia Electronic Commerce Association, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, Korea CALS/EC Association, LMI Government Consulting, NEC, NIST, Oracle, PISCES Ltd, PSLX Consortium, SeeBeyond, Sterling Commerce, Sun Microsystems, University of Hong Kong, US Dept of the Navy, U.S. General Services Administration, and others."
Universal Business Language 1.0. Edited by Bill Meadows and Lisa Seaburg (Aeon LLC). Publication Date: 15-September-2004. An OASIS Committee Draft approved by the OASIS Membership as an OASIS Standard, 2004-11-08. Produced by contributing members of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee.
The downloadable package for UBL Version 1.0 contains ca 244 files including: (1) XML schemas for eight basic business documents: Order, Order Response, Order Response Simple, Order Change, Order Cancellation, Despatch Advice, Receipt Advice, and Invoice; (2) a description of the generic order-to-invoice procurement process within which the UBL document types are designed to operate; (3) a library of more than 400 reusable XML data elements from which the UBL document schemas are constructed, complete with definitions based on the ISO/TS 15000 Core Components Technical Specification; (4) a description of the UBL 1.0 development methodology; (5) UML diagrams of the overall UBL data model and its constituent component packages — Address Package, Contract Package, Delivery Package, Document Reference Package, Hazardous Item Package, Item Package, Party Package, Payment Package, Procurement Package, Tax Package; (6) Document assembly diagrams showing the relationship between each of the UBL document types and its constituent components; (7) Excel and OpenOffice spreadsheets showing the data models of each of the UBL documents and the UBL component library; etc.
Related document: Universal Business Language (UBL) Naming and Design Rules. Lead Editor: Mark Crawford (LMI). Publication Date: 5 November 2004. Document identifier: 'cd-UBL-NDR-1.0.1' 112 pages. Produced by the UBL Naming and Design Rules Subcommittee under SC Co-chairs: Mavis Cournane (Cognitran Ltd), Mark Crawford (LMI), and Lisa Seaburg (Aeon LLC). Draft document [Second CD Candidate] under consideration by the OASIS Universal Business Language Technical Committee for approval as a Committee Draft and OASIS Standard. [source PDF]
"This specification documents the naming and design rules and guidelines for the construction of XML components for the UBL vocabulary. It conveys a normative set of XML schema design rules and naming conventions for the creation of business based XML schema for business documents being exchanged between two parties using XML constructs defined in accordance with the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification. The UBL library consists of ebXML CCTS Business Information Entities (BIEs). UBL XML schemas are defined through the application of UBL Naming and Design Rules (NDRs) to an underlying data model mapped to the Core Component types."
Jon Bosak reported on November 14, 2004: "I am pleased to announce that the revised UBL Naming and Design Rules have been approved by the UBL TC and are now in the process of submission for OASIS Standardization. The revised CD can be found [online]. These are the naming and design rules that were used in generating the schemas in the UBL 1.0 Standard. The NDR CD may undergo minor editorial tweaks and a change of location when it moves into consideration by the OASIS member organizations, but with regard to content, it is now complete. See "Second UBL NDR 1.0 Committee Draft Approved."
Note 2005-01-31: The UBL NDR was subsequently approved by the membership as an OASIS Standard; see "XML Naming and Design Rules Specifications Published by OASIS, UN/CEFACT, and Navy CIO", and in particular, Universal Business Language (UBL) Naming and Design Rules.
The OASIS international standards consortium today announced that its members have approved the Universal Business Language (UBL) version 1.0 as an OASIS Standard, a status that signifies the highest level of ratification. Developed through an open process, UBL defines a common XML library of business documents, such as purchase orders and invoices, as well as reusable data components from which an unlimited number of other documents can be constructed. UBL is the first standard implementation of the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification.
"Agreement on a common set of business-to-business document standards is essential for successful electronic commerce," explained Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems, chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee and organizer of the working group that created XML. "UBL provides the world with standard electronic versions of traditional business documents designed to integrate with established commercial and legal practices. Using UBL, businesses of all sizes can enjoy the benefits of electronic commerce."
Joanne Friedman, CEO of business-technology advisory, ConneKted Minds Inc., observed, "The combination of a fixed tag set for electronic business (UBL) together with a transport protocol designed for the same purpose (ebXML messaging) is analogous to the foundations which built the World Wide Web. Where HTML provides consumers with information ubiquity, and HTTP a transfer protocol designed for the same purpose provides universal access, the UBL/ebXML combination will bring industry the boundary-less, barrier-free information needed to catalyze economic growth and foster inter-industry global trade. E-business didn't die, it just (quietly) got smarter."
"With XML came a proliferation of industry-specific vocabularies for business documents. Unfortunately, no company does business in isolation. The very nature of the supply chain requires meaningful, cross-industry communication," noted Mark Crawford of LMI Government Consulting, vice-chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee. "Instead of being optimized for a particular vertical industry or application domain, UBL is designed for real-world businesses that work with partners across multiple industries."
"The key to UBL is that it was built on consensus and collaboration," said Patrick Gannon, president and CEO of OASIS. "The new OASIS Standard is an exciting example of the benefit of bringing together users, vendors, industry associations and government agencies. By actively involving all parties affected by cross-industry standards in the requirements and development phases, the usability of UBL across a variety of trading contexts is assured. We congratulate OASIS UBL Technical Committee members on their achievement and encourage other organizations to join them in advancing this work."
Participation in the OASIS UBL Technical Committee remains open to all organizations and individuals; OASIS hosts an open mail list for public comment and the ubl-dev mailing list for exchanging information on implementing the standard. UBL is provided on a royalty-free basis, available to all without licensing or other fees.
"The UBL 1.0 release represents a significant advancement in the process of using international open standards to conduct business modeling, data analysis, and XML schema deployment. It provides an "out of the box" solution for document-based transactions as well as a library of reusable business data components," said Marion A. Royal, Senior Policy Advisor with the Office of Governmentwide Policy at U.S. General Services Administration.
"As a proponent of open standards-based integration, SeeBeyond is pleased to have participated in the development of UBL 1.0, and welcomes its approval as an OASIS Standard in the payload domain of XML-based B2B frameworks," said Alex Andrianopoulos, Vice President of Product Management for SeeBeyond. "Working with a broad range of businesses across all major industries, we see such a standard playing a key role to enabling global ecommerce interoperability as it promotes the integration of small-to-mid range businesses into broader electronic data exchange-based supply chains."
"Sun is committed to open standards development and is proud to have organized and led the UBL initiative that defines the standard XML payload format for Electronic Procurement," said Mark Bauhaus, vice president of Java Web Services at Sun Microsystems. "Sun is investing in developing UBL because we believe it will play an important role in providing an entry point into SOAs for small and medium sized businesses, where there is a significant need for standardized vocabularies to truly enable electronic business."
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) is a not-for-profit, international consortium that drives the development, convergence, and adoption of e-business standards. Members themselves set the OASIS technical agenda, using a lightweight, open process expressly designed to promote industry consensus and unite disparate efforts. The consortium produces open standards for Web services, security, e-business, and standardization efforts in the public sector and for application-specific markets. Founded in 1993, OASIS has more than 3,500 participants representing over 600 organizations and individual members in 100 countries. Approved OASIS Standards include AVDL, CAP, DocBook, DSML, ebXML, SAML, SPML, UBL, UDDI, WSRP, WSS, XACML, and XCBF...
The UBL Version 1.0 Committee Draft approved as an OASIS Standard is distributed for public review as a ZIP archive with some 244 files, containing prose documentation, normative XML Schemas, UML diagrams, spreadsheet models, formatting specifications, sample instances, and other components. A UBL ASN.1 specification provides an alternative schema definition for UBL documents in accordance with ITU-T X.680-X.693.
The UBL v1.0 release provides a library of XML schemas for reusable data components, small set of XML schemas for common business documents useful in a generic order-to-invoice trading context, and support for the customization of UBL in specific trading relationships.
In addition to schemas defining the eight basic document types that support the generic UBL 1.0 order-to-invoice process, the release contains modularized common XML schemas (reusable BIE schemas, reusable datatype schemas, a documentation metadata schema, and thirteen code list schemas). The code lists provide restricted sets of coded values which may populate particular UBL data fields, viz., code values for Acknowledgement Response, Allowance Charge Reason, Channel, Chip, Country Identification, Currency, Document Status, Latitude Direction, Line Status, Longitude Direction, Operator, Payment Means, and Substitution Status.
The UBL Library is based on a conceptual model of information components known as Business Information Entities (BIEs). These components are assembled into specific document models such as Order and Invoice. These document assembly models are then transformed in accordance with UBL Naming and Design Rules into W3C XSD schema syntax. This approach facilitates the creation of UBL-based document types beyond those specified in the version 1.0 release."
A UBL overview document describes the basic order-to-invoice business process that the UBL document types are designed to support. This basic trading cycle model involves three parties: a Buyer of goods, a Seller of goods, and a Recipient of goods who may or may not be the Buyer. UBL document types defined to support this process include Order, Order Response Simple, Order Response Detailed, Order Change, Order Cancellation, Despatch Advice, Receipt Advice, and Invoice.
UBL Version 1.0 makes normative reference to standards/specifications which define XML, W3C XML Schema (Structures, Datatypes), Abstract Syntax Notation One (ASN.1), Unified Modeling Language (UML), IETF RFC 2119 (Key Words for Use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels), ISO 11179, and UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification 2.01 (CCTS). The terms Object Class, Property Term, Representation Term, and Qualifier are used in the UBL v1.0 specification with the meanings given in ISO 11179 (viz., ISO/IEC 11179-1:1999 Information Technology — Specification and Standardization of Data Elements — Part 1: Framework for the Specification and Standardization of Data Elements).
Of UBL's Normative References, the specification most frequently cited is CCTS (UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Components Technical Specification Version 2.01). UBL appendix G.3.4 on "Core Component Harmonization" clarifies that UBL is indeed an implementation of CCTS, supporting "the concept of a common semantic library of business components [core components]... The UBL TC is working with the UN/CEFACT International Trade and Business Processes Working Group on Harmonization (TBG17), the group is responsible for consistency and harmonization of business process models and core components across business domains and sectors, contributing to a concise and well-defined glossary of business terms, business data semantic definitions, and structuring of data exchanges." The UBL terms Core Component (CC), Basic Core Component (BCC), Aggregate Core Component (ACC), Association Core Component (ASCC), Business Information Entity (BIE), Basic Business Information Entity (BBIE), and Aggregate Business Information Entity (ABIE) are used in the specification with the meanings given in the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification.
Special Projects undertaken by members of the UBL Technical Committee in reaching the Committee Draft level include design, development, and QA projects for Business Modeling, XSD Schema Generation, XSD Schema Validation, XSD Rules Review, ASN.1 Generation, UML Generation, UN Layout Key Formatting, CCTS Alignment, and Quality Assurance.
Adapted from the UBL FAQ document and the Second CD candidate for Universal Business Language (UBL) Naming and Design Rules:
"UBL is the first true standards body implementation of the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS 2.01, aka ISO/TS 15000-5). The UBL library consists of ebXML CCTS Business Information Entities (BIEs). UBL XML schemas are defined through the application of UBL Naming and Design Rules (NDRs) to an underlying data model mapped to the Core Component types. UBL is currently working in conjunction with UN/CEFACT TBG17 to map UBL to the eventual standard Core Component library and with UN/CEFACT ATG and OAGI to develop a single International Standard for XML representation of ebXML Core Component Types and Unqualified Datatypes..." [FAQ]
Note 2004-12-06: ISO/PRF TS 15000-5. Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language (ebXML) -- Part 5: ebXML Core Components Technical Specification, Version 2.01 (ebCCTS). Approval stage (for ISO Technical Specification) as of 2004-12-02.
"UBL employs the methodology and model described in Core Components Technical Specification, Part 8 of the ebXML Technical Framework, Version 2.01 of 15 November 2003 (CCTS) to build the UBL Component Library. The Core Components work is a continuation of work that originated in, and remains a part of, the ebXML initiative. The Core Components concept defines a new paradigm in the design and implementation of reusable syntactically neutral information building blocks. Syntax neutral Core Components are intended to form the basis of business information standardization efforts and to be realized in syntactically specific instantiations such as ANSI ASC X12, UN/EDIFACT, and XML representations such as UBL.
The essence of the Core Components specification is captured in context neutral and
context specific building blocks. The context neutral components are defined as Core
Components (ccts:CoreComponents). Context neutral ccts:CoreComponents are
defined in CCTS as 'A 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.'...
The context specific components are defined as Business Information Entities
(ccts:BusinessInformationEntities). Context specific ccts:Business
InformationEntities are defined in CCTS as 'A piece of business data or a group of
pieces of business data with a unique Business Semantic definition.'...
[As shown in Figure 2-2, Business Information Entities Basic Definition Model], there are different types of ccts:CoreComponents and ccts:BusinessInformationEntities. Each type of ccts:CoreComponent and
ccts:BusinessInformationEntity has specific relationships between and
amongst the other components and entities. The context neutral ccts:CoreComponents are the linchpin that establishes the formal relationship between the various context-specific ccts:BusinessInformationEntities..." [Section 2, Universal Business Language (UBL) Naming and Design Rules]
For additional information, see the list of references in "ebXML Core Components."
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