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Taxonomy Discussion at OASIS

Date:      Mon, 20 Nov 2000 15:15:28 -0500
From:      Karl Best <>
To:        [...],,,,,
Subject:   taxonomy discussion at OASIS

I've been noticing lately a bit of discussion related to taxonomies in the XML e-business space. In particular, most e-business efforts require some sort of registry/repository to store information about companies with whom an organization may do business with, and the registry needs some way to classify the businesses for simple searching. For instance,

  • The Registry stores schemas based on keywords, but needs a taxonomy for better retrieval, as does the Portal which is seeking to provide XML information sorted by vertical industry.

  • The ebXML registry/repository will store information about businesses, but I'm not sure if a taxonomy has yet been defined.

  • UDDI will register businesses for the purpose of discovery, and has selected for taxonomies NAICS, UNSPSC, an unnamed geographic taxonomy, and a general purpose keyword classification (see page 25).

There's a real need to select a good taxonomy (or taxonomies) to classify businesses and industries for the work that we're doing in creating e-business registries. Notice that I say "select" and not "create" -- I don't believe that XML experts should try to reinvent the wheel by creating new taxonomies when there are better trained and more experienced people in this field who do this stuff for a living. Robin Cover has done a bit of research into the subject and has written a background on some of the many taxonomies now available; see Perhaps one or more of these taxonomies would work for what we need.

I've set up an email list where we can discuss the use of taxonomies in the XML e-business space. I'd like to discussed whether it's possible to select an existing taxonomy that would meet the needs of ebXML, UDDI,, etc., what the pros and cons of various taxonomies are, and what criteria we should use to select them. The ultimate goal of this list would be the creation of an OASIS technical committee, which would select taxonomies for use at OASIS and as well as make recommendations to other standards groups.

This is an opt-in discussion list: to participate you must subscribe to the discussion list by sending a message to with the word "subscribe" as the body of the message. After you are subscribed, you may send messages for the list to

Karl F. Best
OASIS - Director, Technical Operations
978.667.5115 x206

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive.

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