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Created: April 20, 2007.
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Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) Version 3: Second Public Review.


The UN/CEFACT Techniques and Methodologies Group (TMG) has announced the release of the UN/CEFACT Core Components Technical Specification (UN/CEFACT CCTS) Version 3 for a Second Public Review.

The Core Components Technical Specification defines meta models and rules necessary for describing the structure and contents of conceptual and physical/logical data models, process models, and information exchange models. The CCTS is dependent on the Unified Modelling Language (UML) in terms of how it is expressed in this specification, but does not require UML in its implementation.

According to the TMG announcement, the CCTS "describes and specifies a semantic-based approach to the well-understood problem of the lack of information interoperability within and between applications and data bases in the e-business arena. It focuses especially on a dynamic, flexible and interoperable way of standardizing business semantics of libraries for electronic business data exchange. Therefore, CCTS describes a revolutionary approach for developing a common set of semantic building blocks that represent the general types of business data in use today. This approach provides for the creation of new business vocabularies as well as restructuring of existing business vocabularies to achieve semantic interoperability of data. It defines meta models, and rules necessary for describing the structure and contents of conceptual and logical, and physical data models that can be used for collaborative business processes and information exchange."

This Second Public Review of CCTS Version 3.0 corresponds to Step 5 in the UN/CEFACT Open Development Process (ODP). The comment phase extends through 15-May-2007. The latest revision for review incorporates all appropriate comments submitted since the first public review period. This second round of public review is essential to moving the document forward to Step 6, called "Implementation Verification." Interested parties are asked to review the document for technical correctness and submit comments using the provided submission template. The UN/CEFACT Open Development Process (ODP) follows a phased eight-step sequence, including: (1) Proposal; (2) Requirements Determination; (3) First Draft; (4) Working Drafts; (5) Public Review; (6) Implementation Verification; (7) UN/CEFACT Approval and Publication; (8) Maintenance.

An Overview of CCTS is provided in Section 5, excerpted here:

This Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) provides a way to identify, capture and maximize the re-use of business information to support and enhance information inter-operability across multiple business situations. The specification focuses both on human-readable and machine-processable representations of this information.

The CCTS approach is more flexible than current data and information exchange standards because the semantic standardization is done in a syntax-neutral fashion. This syntax-neutral semantic based methodology allows for the richness inherent in natural language to be used to create data and information exchange models that are devoid of computer-driven syntax limitations and requirements.

UN/CEFACT business process and core component solutions capture a wealth of information about the business reasons for variation in data model and 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.

The CCTS key concepts encompass two focus areas: core components and business information entities.

  • Core Components. Core components are semantic building blocks that can be used for all aspects of data and information modelling and exchange. Core components are the linchpin for creating interoperable business process models and business documents. Core components are conceptual in nature, they are used for creating context specific BIEs.

  • Business Information Entities. Core Components act as conceptual models that are used to define Business Information Entities (BIEs). BIEs are the expression of the conceptual core components as logical/physical data model objects and information exchanges. BIEs are created through the application of context and may be qualified to guarantee unique business semantics. A specific relationship exists between CCs and BIEs; BIEs are always derived from their source CC.

UN/CEFACT (United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business) supports an open approach to developing standards: the first two goals in this approach are openness and world-wide participation. "All specifications must be open, free of any constraints or restrictions associated with intellectual property rights (IPR). All interested parties should have the opportunity to review, comment on, and contribute to Technical Specifications."

Bibliographic Information

UN/CEFACT Core Components Technical Specification. Version 3.0. Second Public Review. 16-April-2007. Copyright © 2007 UN/CEFACT. 123 pages. Previous version: Core Components Technical Specification Version 2.2 (Working Draft B), 31-March-2006. [source PDF]

ISO 15000-5: Core Components Technical Specification Project Team Participants. CCWG Chair: Jim Wilson (KCX Incorporated). CCTS Chair: Gunther Stuhec (SAP AG). Editor: Mark Crawford (SAP Labs LLC - U.S.). Editing Team: Mary Kay Blantz (AIAG), and Anthony Coates (Miley Watts LLP, UK). Contributors: Oyvind Aassve (NorStella) Ed Buchinski (Canada TBS), Michael Dill (GEFEG, mbH), Jostein Fromyr (EdiSys As), Kenji Itoh (JASTPRO), Garret Minakawa (Open Applications Group), Sue Probert (SEPIAeb Ltd), Nada Reinprecht (Nemmco), Jean-Luc Sanson (EDF), Fred Van Blommestein (Independent), Sylvia Webb (GEFEG, US).

Contact Information: CCWG Chair: Jim Wilson (KCX Incorporated,; CCTS Chair: Gunther Stuhec, SAP AG,; Editor: Mark Crawford, SAP Labs LLC (U.S.)

Excerpts: CCTS Version 3.0, Second Public Review

Introduction. This specification describes and specifies a semantic-based approach to the well-understood problem of the lack of information interoperability within and between applications and data bases in the e-business arena. Traditionally, data has been designed for specific applications and databases without regard to interoperability. Standards for the exchange of that business data between applications and databases have been focused on static message definitions that have not enabled a sufficient degree of interoperability or flexibility. A more flexible and interoperable way of standardizing business semantics has long been required.

The UN/CEFACT (United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business) core component solution described in this technical specification presents just such a methodology. This Core Component Technical Specification (CCTS) describes a revolutionary approach for developing a common set of semantic building blocks that represent the general types of business data in use today. This approach provides for the creation of new business vocabularies as well as restructuring of existing business vocabularies to achieve semantic interoperability of data.

Goals of the Technical Specification. The CCTS has been developed to provide for standards based semantic data modelling. CCTS data modelling supports traditional data models, syntax specific instantiations of those data models, and syntax specific business information exchanges. CCTS data models are independent of any specific technology platform, operating system, or native language they are being employed on.

The components created as a result of employing this specification should be maintained in a universally freely accessible Core Component Library (CCL). UN/CEFACT will maintain their CCL in an ebXML compliant registry and make its contents available to the entire core component community. It is recommended that all users of this specification submit their components for inclusion in the UN/CEFACT CCL.

Supplemental Documents. The UN/CEFACT Forum will prepare supplemental documents that may be used in conjunction with this specification. As elaborated in the CCWG description, these supplemental documents will include:

  • Core Component Message Assembly (CCMA) — expands on the assembly principles contained in the CCTS and provides specific methodology for assembling higher level business information entities (BIEs) for electronic messages.
  • UN/CEFACT Context Methodology (UCM) — The context methodology provides a mechanism for business driven customization of BIEs.
  • Data Type Catalogue — The collection of UN/CEFACT Permissible Representation Terms, Core Data Types, and Business Data Types.
  • UML Profile for Core Components — Defines a UML profile for expressing core components in UML models.
  • Core Components Library (CCL) — represents the work of various organizations working in a joint endeavour to develop and publish semantically correct and meaningful information exchange parcels.

Audience. The CCTS can be employed wherever data is being defined, stored, used, shared or exchanged. It is especially well suited for defining data models and for creating data exchange standards for information flows amongst and between enterprises, governmental agencies, and/or other organizations in an open, global environment.

This specification forms the basis for international cross-industry standards development work of business analysts, business users and information technology specialists. The user community consists of business people, data modellers, business document modellers, business process modellers, and application developers of different organizations that require common understanding and interoperability of information.

UN/CEFACT Core Components: Background and Adoption

  • UN/CEFACT ATG and Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS):
  • [December 27, 2007] CCTS 2.01 Data Type Catalogue. Via Mark Crawford: When the Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) Version 2.01 was published by UN/CEFACT in 2003, it contained a list of 10 Core Component Types, 20 primary and secondary representation terms, and supporting Content and Supplementary Components. The Core Component Types were simple data types that were intended to be used as the basis for the development of data types to express the value domain for CCTS leaf elements (Basic Core Components and Basic Business Information Entities). It was envisioned that the 10 CCTs and the 20 Representation Terms would be used to create a set of 20 unqualified data types and an unlimited amount of qualified (more restricted) data types. It was also envisioned that future updates to the data types would be published independently of the CCTS specification. The recently published CCTS 2.01 Data Type Catalogue delivers on those expectations. It republishes the CCTs, Representation Terms, Content and Supplementary Components, and allowed restrictions by primitive data type that were contained in CCTS 2.01. It also, for the first time, publishes the full set of 20 unqualified data types that were implicitly expressed in CCTS 2.01. These data types have also been expressed as XML schema in support of the UN/CEFACT XML NDR standard. The UN/CEFACT Applied Technologies Group is responsible for maintaining changes to the data type catalogue and has provided a Data Maintenance Request form for interested parties to submit their requested changes. ATG is also working on the CCTS 3.0 data type catalogue which expands the number of data types, and also looks at closer alignment with the data types of the W3C XSD specification. SAP actively participates in the development and maintenance of these data types, and has contributed a number of additional unqualified data types that are under consideration within UN/CEFACT. Additionally, these unqualified (or Core) data types are the lowest level of data interoperability being created across a wide variety of individual business standards development organizations such as ACORD, CIDX, OAGi, RosettaNet, UBL and others who have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, CCTS and its supporting data types. Further: UN/CEFACT ATG and Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS)

    Text: UN/CEFACT Core Components Data Type Catalogue (Version 2.01, 7-December-2007). Abstract: "This Data Type Catalogue contains the Allowed Restriction, Core Component Type, Content and Supplementary Component, and Representation Term Core Component Tables published in the Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) Version 2.01. It also contains the physical instantia-tion of the implied data types from CCTS. Additionally, the XML Schema Definition (XSD) and UN/EDIFACT manifestations of the implied data types are also provided as appendicies. This catalogue will be maintained by the UN/CEFACT Applied Technologies Group (ATG) using published data maintenance request (DMR) procedures for data types." Cache PDF .doc from the reference document. See also: the UNTMG Core Components Working Group

  • [February 18, 2007] "Core Components (CCTS) as the basis of interoperability." From Paul Kiel's XML Weblog. "For the last few months, I've been delving deep into the world of ebXML Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) and the Xml Naming and Design Rules (NDR). It is a world that is becoming more and more the basis of standards development frameworks. Organizations such as OAGi have been at the forefront of its development. CIDX, HR-XML, ACORD, AIAG, UBL, and others have been involved in, are working on, or are at least examining core components as the basis for interoperability across domain standards. As with any major development, its complexity is its greatest asset and its greatest weakness. On the latter, I was often one who scratched his head trying to understand the acronym soup that is CCTS. I frequently felt that while the theory was good, the gap in education and awareness was the biggest hindrance towards its adoption. Now that I have been deep into the specification, I feel much more enlightened. And I feel like there are in the pipeline some really interesting implementations that will help usher the CCTS into a new phase as the basis for interoperability..."

  • [January 26, 2007] HR-XML 3.0: A lot-a-bit at a time." By Chuck Allen (Director, HR-XML). "I've written a couple posts introducing some of the ideas behind HR-XML's planned re-architecture — the so-called HR-XML 3.0? HR-XML's last major re-architecture (2.0) began in 2001 and was reflected in our April 2002 release. That release marked our stepping up to the XML Schema Definition language (XSD) from the legacy Document Type Definition (DTD) syntax. HR-XML 3.0 has many dimensions and goals behind it. As I suggest in this December 2006 post, one of the principal goals is reconciliation and hardening of the large, diverse data model we've developed over the past 7 years. Other goals are: (1) Greater interoperability with other business libraries — the Open Applications Group Interoperability Specification (OAGIS) being chief among the targets for greater alignment; (2) A more explicit and standard messaging model based on OAGIS business object documents (BODs); (3) Adoption of Core Components methodologies to express the data model within our large library in a syntax neutral manner. The whole package yields many benefits, including a better foundation for HR service providers building out service oriented architectures..." Note in the "The Open Applications Group and the HR-XML Consortium Announce the Start of Architectural Alignment," '...Once the alignment project is complete, the HR-XML and OAGIS libraries will be packaged separately, but will be structured so enterprises wanting to leverage both libraries will be able to install them together... incorporating the OAGIS implementation of the UN/CEFACT harmonized core components within HR-XML...'

  • [December 29, 2006] "XML Serialization of Core Components - Phase 2." By Mark Crawford (SAP). "The UN/CEFACT XML NDR specification is a UN/CEFACT profile of the W3C XML Schema Definition (XSD)Language specification. The NDR specification provides for XML syntax serialization of syntax neutral core components in a precise and consistent manner using a well documented, unambiguous rule set. UN/CEFACT is beginning work on the next version of the Core Components Based XML NDR Specification used by SAP in defining Netweaver Core and Global Data Types... UN/CEFACT is currently engaged in developing the next version of the CCTS. As the NDR specification is a companion specification, it is logical that work begin on the next version of the NDR as well. In recognition of this, UN/CEFACT has announced the formation of the NDR project team, and described the project effort to create version 3.0 of the NDR specification. That project definition specifies three key components to the NDR project: (1) Preserving alignment between CCTS, the NDR, and other standards in the CCTS standards stack; (2) Driving convergence between the UN/CEFACT XML NDR and those of other standards bodies interested in establishing formal relationships with UN/CEFACT — to include OAGi, GS1 Global, RosettaNet, CIDX, ACORD, AIAG, and OASIS UBL; (3) Establishing relationships between UN/CEFACT and the other organizations with the W3C XML Schema Working Group to drive user-based requirements in XSD..."

  • [December 27, 2006] "Core Components Adoption on the Rise." By Mark Crawford (SAP). "With a strong basis in OO concepts, CCTS at its core is an implementation layer of ISO 11179. The ISO 11179 specification proscribes standards for data design, naming, definition and management. CCTS expands on these concepts by providing a new paradigm in defining and describing data for storage, application use, and information sharing through consistent semantics and a unique context mechanism. Specifically, CCTS creates syntax and context neutral conceptual data models with a strong semantic basis that facilitates human understanding and reuse. The conceptual data model is systematically transformed using the CCTS rule set into fully interoperable, context-specific physical/logical data models supporting specific business requirements. The business use is what transforms data from context-neutral (i.e., Address) to context specific (i.e.. U.S. Shipping Address). The context-specific models are used to develop fully interoperable syntax specific data expressions — such as XSD expressions or EDIFACT Messages — for use behind and across the firewall. By creating standard definitions and semantics of components, such as names, addresses, and many other fragments of data, CCTS enables semantic understanding and reuse of data, regardless of where or how that data is stored, used, or shared. The reusability feature is expected to significantly reduce the amount of effort required to transform individual data rollups (e.g. messages or models) from one standard to another. For example, it is estimated that by transforming RosettaNet PIPS into CCTS conformant structures, the time necessary to map a PIP to SAP IDOC and backend GDTs will be reduced by upwards of 80%..."

  • [January 23, 2006] "Why CCTS?" XML-DEV Posting, from Mark Crawford. January 23, 2006. "CCTS is a semantic based, syntax neutral modeling standard that is an implementaton layer of the data constructs defined in ISO 11179. CCTS does the heavy lifting if you will of developing any syntax based interchange - XML, EDI or other. It's key advantage is that it provides for syntax neutral conceptual data models that are expressed in the same semantics, regardless of industry or purpose. The context aspects of CCTS provide for the expression of the conceptual data models as physical/logical data models that are 1) tailored for specific exchanges/industries/applications and 2) fully interoperable with all other contextual expressions. CCTS is being adopted by a wide range of public and private sector organizations, and is forming the basis for the UN's ebusiness standards of the future. UBL is pure CCTS, OAGIS has already used CCTS as the basis for their 9.0 release, and other standards bodies — such as AIAG, RosettaNet, and CIDX — are developing plans for transitioning their underlying data models to CCTS. In addition, these same organizations are looking at adopting the UN/CEFACT XML NDR approach that has been designed from the ground up to optimize the use of XSD for CCTS artifacts. The UN/CEFACT NDRs build on the UBL NDRs and provide for a consistent approach in creating CCTS based XSDs. Although there is currently a short list of CCTS enabled tools, we see that changing in the near term. The GEFEG tool can already do CCTS modeling, as well as transformations from CCTS to UBL and UN/CEFACT conformant schema. SAP is incorporating CCTS and UN/CEFACT into their underlying data structures and XML constructs, and working with standards organizations and other clients on adopting CCTS. Oracle is going down that path as well..."

  • [2006] "How to Solve the Business Standards Dilemma: CCTS Key Model Concepts." By Gunther Stuhec (SAP AG). "The first article in the series 'How to Solve the Business Standards Dilemma' discussed a new approach for semantic data modeling as defined in ISO 15000-5 Core Components Technical Specification. The CCTS approach is a paradigm shift in defining, describing, or representing business data to enable real application, platform, or B2B interoperability. Many readers recognized that many of the key concepts in that specification have been around since the beginning of electronic data, and they wonder if we can really achieve interoperability with these existing approaches. The quick answer is yes, because CCTS combines these traditional approaches with new concepts made possible by new technologies. Specifically, the ISO 15000-5 specification provides for: (1) logical and semantically driven modeling methodology for getting consistent and unambiguous understanding of data models (2) context driven and collaborative framework for evolutionary modeling, modification and usage of reusable artifacts, and a (3) syntax independency so that data models can be transformed in different physical syntaxes to always enable the same semantic-based understanding. However, in order to get a deeper understanding, additional articles that provide greater detail are necessary. These articles will assist the reader in developing a deeper understanding and appreciation for CCTS, and will identify why the CCTS approach is especially helpful in achieving true data interoperability in the B2B world..." From the collection of CCTS articles and papers.

  • [December 2005] "Global Data Dictionary (GDD) Meets UN/CEFACT Core Components Requirements Per GS1 Sweden Study." "After receiving multiple requests from their user companies, GS1 Sweden commissioned a comparison between the GDD and UN/CEFACT (United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business) Core Components Technical Specification 2.01 (CCTS). The findings of the study revealed that the GDD meets the storage requirements and is compliant with the CCTS. The GDD's initial design was based upon the UN/CEFACT Core Components Methodology, which drives the business model development of GS1's Global Business Process Modeling (GBPM) Team. Specifically, the UN/CEFACT Core Components are utilised during development of the GS1 XML Business Message Standards..."

  • OAGi CoreComponents Work Group. The OAGi CoreComponents work group is reviewing the existing OAGIS standard in order to add the UN/CEFACT CoreComponentTypes to a future release of OAGIS. Also the group is identifying the larger grained Components or BIEs of OAGIS. These larger grained components are being submitted for inclusion/consideration for the global CoreCompenents that are being proposed by UN/CEFACT."

About the TMG Core Components Working Group (CCWG)

The UN/CEFACT Techniques and Methodologies Group (TMG) Core Components Working Group (CCWG) provides techniques and methodologies for the development and reuse of business information. Four projects are listed [2007-04] in the CCWG Project List:

  • CCTS — Core Component Technical Specification V3.0 - Part 1 of CCTS. "The Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) describes and specifies a new approach to the well-understood problem of 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. The CCTS 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. Further information can be found in the project area."
  • CCMA — Core Component Message Assembly Specification V1.0 - Part 2 of CCTS. The CCMA (Core Components Message Assembly) specification "will provide a specific methodology for assembling higher level Business Information Entitiesf or electronic messages in a semantic and reusable order, but messages which are not electronic may eventually be built from this specification. This methodology also includes the definition of templates for similar structuring of all types of business messages. This is one of the key features for high reusability of business messages and getting a common understanding of business messages on a semantic level. The technical specification will focus on the business section of a message, and will not include any enveloping needed to transmit this information. It will include models as appropriate and will fit into the same architecture as UN/CEFACT Business Process specifications. The business message will be a Business Information Entity (BIE) which is based on an appropriate business message template and no corresponding Aggregate Core Component (ACC) will be required."

  • UPCC — UML Profile for Core Components V1.0 - Part 3 of CCTS. The UPCC specification will be written using UML and XMI profiles such that it is implementable by the widest spectrum of UML tool vendors. UPCC has two main tasks in scope: (1) Model Validation — To define a standard mechanism to validate the syntax and semantics of UMM models during model development. This provides a means for business analysts to create CCTS compliant UML based models. (2) Model Interchange —To define a standard serialization format for CCTS models that can be used both for model interchange between modeling tools and also as an intermediate format for the generation of deployment schema such as XMLNDR for CCTS."

  • UCM — Unified Context Methodology V1.0. "The purpose of the Unified Context Methodology (UCM) Project is to develop a unified methodology and technical specification for developing, registering, and using context drivers as part and for the application of a number of UN/CEFACT standard artefacts, such as Business Data Type, Business Information Entity, Business Message, Business Area, Business Process Models etc. This project will start from the current context mechanism described in the Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS).

About UN/CEFACT Techniques and Methodologies Group (TMG)

UN/CEFACT Techniques and Methodologies Group (TMG) is one of the five Permanent Working Groups of UN/CEFACT.

The purpose of the TMG is to provide all UN/CEFACT Groups with Meta (base) Business Process, Information and Communications Technology specifications, recommendations and education.

The TMG also functions as a research group evaluating new information and communication technologies (ICT), as well as techniques and methodologies that may assist UN/CEFACT and its groups to fulfil their mandate and vision in trade facilitation and e-business.

The Group produces trade facilitation and electronic business recommendations and technical specifications to advance global commerce continuing the work of the former TMWG, such as the Core Component Technical Specification (CCTS) and the UN/CEFACT Modelling Methodology (UMM).

Its membership is open to experts with broad knowledge in the area of business process, information and communications specifications, architecture, as well as current techniques and methodologies used within UN/CEFACT, technological developments, and the functions of UN/CEFACT and its groups.

The Business Process Working Group (BPWG) provides techniques and methodologies for the description of inter-organizational business processes and the resulting information exchanges.

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