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|Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML) Proposed for eContracts.|
Members of the OASIS LegalXML eContracts Technical Committee are considering approval of the Elkera Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML) as a host schema to serve as a base structural markup language for eContract documents. Produced by Elkera Pty Limited, BNML is a general purpose XML Schema capable of marking up most technical, legal and business narrative documents. BNML is currently defined in RELAX NG Compact syntax.
In May 2005, members of the OASIS eContracts TC began a review of candidate "host schema" languages suitable for use in "Narrative Markup" required by eContracts. Evaluation was made in light of the TC's eContracts Structure Markup Preliminary Report produced by the eContracts Structure Subcommittee and the Requirements for Technical Specification based upon use cases collected in August-September 2004. An initial evaulation was made of XHTML, Structural Markup Document, DITA, S1000D, DocBook, BNML, WordML, TEI Text Encoding Initiative, the Open Office Markup.
The eContracts TC developed a Schema Evaluation Criteria document and a corresponding Host Schema Evaluation Template for use in assessing the merits of a reduced list of candidate schemas. In July 2005, the TC produced a collection of evaluation reports for these candidates, including BNML, LegalXML Court Document format, Docbook, Open Document, Open Office, TEI Lite, Text Encoding Initiative (TEI Full), and WordML. The Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML) from Elkera has emerged as the lead candidate, which will be considered for approval as the TC's host schema in an August 17, 2005 meeting.
Using simple, re-usable patterns, the Elkera BNML Schema is designed to "make it easier to develop XML authoring applications that will be easy to use and that will enhance author productivity." While some general purpose DTDs or schemas "contain a vast number of elements in an attempt
to provide a smorgasbord of elements for different types of content, the core of the Elkera BNML Schema is a very small number of elements to model the generic structure of almost any kind of narrative document. To begin, an author only needs to know six or seven markup elements."
The typical smorgasbord approach, according to Elkera, "provides multiple ways to markup the same content, even down to the paragraph and list level. This approach makes it very difficult to train authors to use the schema and XML editing tools. It leads to very inconsistent markup usage by different authors and between documents by the same author. This causes problems for content re-use and automated rendering processes. It also makes rendering applications expensive to develop and difficult to maintain."
In contrast, the Elkera BNML Schema "defines a few simple patterns, using just a few elements, that can provide a generic representation of almost any narrative content of the kind found in technical, legal and business documents. The Elkera BNML Schema uses a recursive hierarchical model for the main narrative structure and is particularly suited to documents with numbered provisions, such as clauses in contracts and technical documents."
The Elkera BNML Schema "is maintained in RELAX NG syntax and can be expressed as an XML Schema or a DTD. The DTD version does not provide the complete features of the schema. Currently, TRANG is used to produce XML Schema (.xsd) versions of the BNML Standard from RELAX NG syntax. This produces a schema layout that may not be ideally suited to customizing the XSD format."
A published Guide to BNML Schema Configuration clarifies that the BNML Standard "is not intended as an end user schema; it is intended to be the foundation upon which organization or application specific schema are built. The BNML Schema has a different architecture than most other general purpose narrative document schema: one of its principal objectives is to avoid the large number of elements and loose content models of those schema. The BNML Schema is a foundation for the construction of application specific schema. It requires a modest amount of development to meet individual application requirements before it can be used. The BNML Schema may can be thought of as a family of schemas sharing a common core that enables them to take advantage of supporting applications with minimal effort and expense."
Requirements for Technical Specification: OASIS Legal XML eContracts TC. By Peter Meyer (Elkera Pty Limited), with contributions by Jason Harrop, Dr Zoran Milosevic, Rolly Chambers, Dr. Laurence Leff, Dave Marvit, and Daniel Greenwood. Version 1.0. May 20, 2005. Prepared for the OASIS LegalXML eContracts TC. 70 pages. See the posting from Peter Meyer on May 21, 2005 with the ZIP file distribution for PDF and RTF formats.
"The [eContracts] TC aims to develop a specification that can be used by the widest range of users at all stages of the contract life cycle. The specific needs of users and the systems they use are diverse. There is only very limited use of XML for document markup at present and processing systems are immature. The proposed specification will set out to achieve core, common objectives with minimal prescriptiveness. Feedback from use of the specification will guide its future development.
The specification will define an XML conforming schema for the generic, structural markup of narrative contract documents. This will include a framework to add contract metadata and embedded data values markup to suit particular contract transactions. It will be up to interested industry sectors to define particular semantic XML vocabularies for metadata and embedded data values markup relevant to those industry sectors. The generic, structural markup will support all document creation and publishing processes described earlier. It will be important that the schema is designed to make it easy for document authors to facilitate the widest possible adoption..."
Host Schema Cover Document, July 10, 2005. Posted to the TC document repository by Laurence Leff. Provides links to evaluation of the candidate host schemas: (1) BNML; (2) Court Document [Legal XML Member Section Electronic Court Filing Technical Committee, also approved by the Joint Technology Committee of the Conference of State Court Administrators and the National Association of Court Managers (COSCA/NACM) for comment and experimental use]; (3) Docbook; (4) Open Document; (5) Open Office; (6) TEI Lite; (7) Text Encoding Initiative (TEI); (8) WordML.
HostSchema Evaluation Template. Prepared in Docbook XML. July 10, 2005. See the posting.
Schema Evaluation Criteria. OASIS Legal XML eContracts TC. By Peter Meyer. Draft version 0.01. May 22, 2005. 6 pages. From the posting: first draft of the schema evaluation criteria, in PDF and MS-Word. Posted May 22, 2005 by Peter Meyer: "Attached is first draft of the schema evaluation criteria we are to discuss at our meeting on Tuesday (US eastern time). RTF and PDF versions are... Framework for Evaluation of Candidates on which to Base Structural Markup that Mr. Peter Meyers prepared..."
The [OASIS LegalXML eContracts] Technical Committee has adopted requirements for development of its specification. Those requirements define the high level requirements for a schema to represent narrative contract documents. During 2004 a sub-committee of the TC produced a preliminary report for a draft structural markup model for narrative contract documents based on XHTML 2.0. The TC proposes to review selected available schema (host schema) against its requirements and the conclusions reached by the sub-committee to determine whether it should: (a) continue with the model proposed by the sub-committee based on XHTML 2.0; (b) adopt a grammar from another DTD or schema; or (c) develop a new grammar.This document lists the criteria to be applied by the TC in its evaluation of existing schema."
eContracts Structure Markup: Preliminary Report. eContracts Structure Subcommittee. Edited by Jason Harrop. With contributions by Subcommittee members: Peter Meyer, Mary McRae, John McClure, and Dr Laurence Leff. Last revised: 19 July 2004. 28 pages. See the posting of May 12, 2005, "Discussion of Structural Markup." [source PDF]
"This document identifies the business problems relating to the preparation and management of various kinds of contracts, the persons affected by those problems and the business needs of those persons to overcome those problems. Within that framework, it defines the functional characteristics an XML application must have to meet those needs..."
"Comparison of XML Schema For Narrative Documents." By Andrew Squire and Peter Meyer (Elkera). 3-August-2005. 37 pages. Copyright (c) Elkera Pty Limited. "This article compares four schema, DocBook, DITA, XHTML 2.0 and Elkera BNML for their suitability in marking up narrative business documents." [alt URL, cache].
"The purpose of this document is to identify and compare the key features of four XML DTDs or schema [DocBook, DITA, XHTML 2.0 and Elkera BNML] that may be considered as candidates to model a wide range of business, legal and technical documents commonly prepared by business and government enterprises (narrative business documents)... The first three schema are standards or proposed standards. The Elkera BNML schema is newly released by Elkera in July 2005... Enterprises may wish to manage narrative business documents using XML to support various requirements, including single source publishing, automated content re-use and long term data management for long life cycle documents. These sorts of documents are often created by non-technical authors who are familiar with word processing software but have no experience with XML...
Conclusions: It is possible to markup basic narrative structures using just a few elements from each of the four schema. DocBook, DITA, and XHTML 2.0 each require authors to make element selections at the paragraph level that are unnecessary and confusing. Due to the large number of choices offered, those schema do not define simple patterns that can be easily explained to new authors and consistently applied by them..."
Elkera Business Narrative Markup Language. Introduction to the Elkera BNML Schema. 26-July-2005. Elkera Pty Limited. 7 pages. [cache]
The Elkera Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML) Schema is a general purpose, XML Schema capable of marking up most technical, legal and business narrative documents. It can be applied to the simplest correspondence or the most complex legal contracts and technical specifications with numbered clauses and schedules. It allows authors to create flexible, highly structured markup for documents that can be managed and published in a dynamic enterprise publishing system. The simple, re-usable patterns of the Elkera BNML Schema will make it easier to develop XML authoring applications that will be easy to use and that will enhance author productivity. The Elkera BNML Schema is intended for the development of XML based content authoring and dynamic enterprise publishing applications where content must be published in high quality print layouts, on the web or in other electronic formats..."
Elkera BNML Schema Download. See the ZIP package file listing from the 2005-08 snapshot. "Until final release of the BNML Schema under an open source licence, it can be downloaded for 90 days..."
"Guide to BNML Schema Configuration." Version 1.00. 27-July-2005. 10 pages. Extracted from the ZIP distribution package. Principal BNML Schema developer: Andrew Squire (Elkera's senior consultant and XML applications architect). The Elkera BNML Schema is maintained in RELAX NG syntax; see the file listing from a 2005-08 distribution. This document is an introductory guide to configuration and customization of the Elkera Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML ) Schema, version 1.05. As of 27-July-2005, "TRANG is used to produce XML Schema (.xsd) versions of BNML Standard. This produces a schema layout that may not be ideally suited to customizing the XSD format. Elkera proposes to prepare a native xsd format that better supports customization...
The BNML-Standard defines a base schema with three document types, document, contract and correspondence. However, principally because it deliberately lacks defined values for most element attributes, BNML Standard is not proposed as a working schema. Some working schema will be BNML subsets; they will be valid against BNML Standard. To that extent, BNML Standard can function as an interchange schema... Elkera has created XML-2-Go as a working application of BNML Standard, which can be downloaded by approved users from Elkera's web site..."
Host Schema Evaluation for Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML). See the Schema Evaluation Criteria and Host Schema Cover Document. [source]
A published Introduction to the Elkera BNML Schema [26-July-2005 or later] is available in PDF and HTML formats. Excerpts:
The Elkera Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML) Schema is a general purpose, XML Schema capable of marking up most technical, legal and business narrative documents. It can be applied to the simplest correspondence or the most complex legal contracts and technical specifications with numbered clauses and schedules. It allows authors to create flexible, highly structured markup for documents that can be managed and published in a dynamic enterprise publishing system...
The Elkera BNML Schema is intended for the development of XML based content authoring and dynamic enterprise publishing application where content must be published in high quality print layouts, on the web or in other electronic formats...
How is the BNML Schema different? The simple, re-usable patterns defined by the Elkera BNML Schema mean that there is really only one way to markup most narrative content. This promotes much more consistent markup than is achievable with many other general purpose schema and it reduces the training and support needs of authors...
The BNML Schema uses a single, recursive element (item) to define the main parts, such as sections or clauses in the document to any desired level. The item element may have a number (num) and a title. The title is not required. The item element is intended to be a re-usable object that can be inserted at any point into the document hierarchy...
The BNML Schema also defines a strict conceptual or grammatical paragraph using a block element. All lists, tables, graphic objects and inline content must be contained by a block element. Lists are created by re-using the item element inside block. The block element does not contain mixed content but uses the text element for all narrative content...
The BNML Schema includes flexible markup structures needed for business narrative documents, including dynamic cross references and annexed or subsidiary content. Application developers can build on this simplicity to provide authoring interfaces that permit XML authoring to be much simpler than using common word processing software...
The Elkera BNML Schema is particularly designed for documents that require automatic numbering of document provisions and internal cross references to numbered provisions. The BNML Schema is simpler to modify and extend than most general purpose schema. There is almost nothing that can be pruned from the BNML Schema. The schema provides inbuilt configuration options for common content model variations and extensions. The pre-defined markup patterns will enable developers to quickly add their own extensions. The small element set and more consistent markup promoted by the Elkera BNML Schema greatly reduces the complexity of rendering and processing applications...
The Elkera BNML Schema is designed to open up the possibilities of single source or dynamic enterprise publishing to a wider range of enterprises than ever before. In particular. the BNML Schema simplifies narrative content markup to make it easier to train and support authors using XML editing systems. The Schema's simple markup model should reduce the cost of rendering application development and maintenance...
Elkera's published Guide to BNML Schema Configuration is an "introductory guide to configuration and customization of the Elkera Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML ) Schema version 1.05." Excerpts (adapted):
The foundation of the BNML Schema is the file bnml-core.rnc. That file
defines the basic, low level components common to most narrative document
types. BNML Core is the essence of the BNML Schema family.
The BNML-Standard defines a base schema with three document types, document, contract and correspondence. However, principally because it deliberately lacks defined values for most element attributes, BNML Standard is not proposed as a working schema. Some working schema will be BNML subsets, and will be valid against BNML Standard. To that extent, BNML Standard can function as an interchange schema.
BNML Standard consists of six (6) BNML specific files and two (2) files that incorporate external features into the application:
- bnml-standard.rnc: "The umbrella file that defines the BNML Standard schema. This file includes the default namespace definition for BNML Standard, http://www.elkera.com/ns/2003/bnml-standard. The file contains statements to include all other files that make up the schema. The bnml-standard.rnc file can be copied and renamed to create a new application of the BNML Schema" [according to the customization rules for the BNML standard]
- bnml-core.rnc: "This file contains the core patterns and elements that define the BNML Schema family which are used as the base of BNML Standard. These core patterns can be used to create the basic structures that occur in many narrative documents. These patterns are used in all BNML document types."
- bnml-structure.rnc: "This file contains a number of shared elements that are not considered part of BNML core. These elements are based on the patterns found in BNML core and are used to create specific types of structures that can be found in any of the three basic BNML Standard document types."
- bnml-document.rnc: "defines a BNML document type of document, as well as a other
elements that are specific to this document type."
- bnml-contract.rnc: "defines a BNML document type of contract, as well as a other elements that are specific to this document type."
- bnml-correspondence.rnc: "defines a BNML document type of correspondence, as well as a other elements that are specific to this document type."
- dc-metadata.rnc: "This file provides elements from the Dublin Core metadata set. This is used to incorporate a number of basic metadata elements into BNML Standard."
- xi-include.rnc: "This file provides the xi:include element, which is defined by the World Wide Web Consortium XML Inclusions recommendation (XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0). This is used in BNML Standard to provide for content re-use applications.
Customization of the BNML Standard: the specification defines "different classes of customization, the recommended approach to customization, and a general introduction to how the customize the schema...
(1) "BNML Subset" is a customization of BNML Standard that can be validated against BNML standard. This class of customization can only add attribute value enumerations, redefine existing attributes, perhaps to provide default values or to change the data type of attributes. Changed data types must remain valid when validating against BNML Standard. It is also possible to remove BNML document types.
(2) "BNML Variant" is a customization of BNML that cannot be validated against BNML Standard. There are no restrictions on this type of customization, however the integrity of the core patterns found in bnmlcore. rnc must be retained if the schema is to retain designation as part of the BNML Schema family. This class of customization may add new attributes to existing elements, add new elements and new document types. The type of customization best suited to a particular application is left to the application developer.
Selected postings/documents from the OASIS eContracts Technical Committee list germane to (pending) approval of BNML within that TC:
- August 10, 2005, Laurence Leff. Agenda for Conference Call Wednesday August 17th 18:00 New York City Time. "As mentioned in the minutes of the August Third meeting, consider approving the Elkera BNML proposal as our host schema."
- August 7, 2005, Laurence Leff. Minutes Teleconference August Third, Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Systems. "... an informal meeting discussing the selection of a contract schema. This discussion focused on the Business Narrative Markup Language (BNML) from Elkera... Mr. Meyer was thanked for offering the XML Schema to OASIS. There was a discussion of the legal language to license. We anticipate that Mr. Greenwood would get draft language from Mr. Jamie Clark of OASIS for Mr. Meyer's consideration and possibly sharing this with his attorney. Mr. Meyer does not anticipate making any of BNML's software open source at the present time, submitting the Schema to OASIS. Mr. Meyer wants to ensure that Elkera could continue to use the schema including using it for other types of documents. This may involve us using a different name than Business Narrative Markup Language... Mr. Daniel Greenwood will call a meeting for August Tenth at 18:00 specifically to consider approving the Elkera BNML proposal as our host schema..."
- July 21, 2005, Laurence Leff. Minutes Teleconference of July Twentieth OASIS eContracts Technical Committee. "There was an informal agreement to eliminate DITA as it was not intended for documents. [?] DITA provides tags for marking up small bits of text in an online education or help environment..."
- July 7, 2005, Laurence Leff. Posting of the HostSchema Evaluation Template in Docbook XML format (template.xml).
- July 7, 2005, Laurence Leff. Agenda OASIS eContracts Technical Committee July 20th 18:00 Eastern Time. "Mr. Peter Meyer will contribute a more detailed analysis and summary of BNML schema (Elkera's) that Dr. Leff started; and provide a side-by-side comparison of DITA/DOCBOOK/XHTML2/BNML (which will overlap with some work we've already done, but perhaps add some more light and perspective), and also will send a copy of the final version of BNML to the TC and is willing to contribute the IP underlying that schema to OASIS as the basis of standardization, if it is the will of the TC to go with that approach. Further explanatory documentation illuminating BNML will also be made available in the weeks to follow, on the same terms to OASIS. The discussions we had were around making the IP freely available, with no restrictions on use, no royalty or otherwise." See alt URL.
- June 01, 2005, Laurence Leff. Minutes of OASIS Legal XML Member Section e-Contracts Technical Committee Teleconference of May 31, 2005. "The committee was pleased with the Schema Evaluation Criteria Draft 001... The committee reviewed candidates for a host schema for the Narrative Markup and decided to include XHTML, Structural Markup Document, DITA, S1000D, DocBook, BNML, WordML, TEI Text Encoding Initiative, the Open Office Markup.
- May 21, 2005, Peter Meyer. "... RTF and PDF versions of the TC requirements [document] adopted on 17 May 2005... I am sending an XML version in Elkera BNML markup to Dr Leff who has kindly agreed to convert it to DocBook markup for retention in the TC archives..."
- May 12, 2005, Laurence Leff. Agenda OASIS eContracts Technical Committee Tuesday May Seventeenth: 18:00 Eastern Time. "Begin Discussion of Structural Markup, The Preliminary report from the eContracts Structure Subcommittee."
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