The Cover PagesThe OASIS Cover Pages: The Online Resource for Markup Language Technologies
Advanced Search
Site Map
CP RSS Channel
Contact Us
Sponsoring CP
About Our Sponsors

Cover Stories
Articles & Papers
Press Releases

XML Query

XML Applications
General Apps
Government Apps
Academic Apps

Technology and Society
Tech Topics
Related Standards
Last modified: September 06, 2000
Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML)

[January 31, 2000] New IBM Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML) XML B2B Transaction Specification. IBM has designed a Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language governing electronic contracts. According to the announcement, "OASIS, the vendor-neutral organization for XML interoperability, announced that IBM has submitted its Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML) for standardization within the OASIS XML.ORG initiative. Developed by IBM, the tpaML specification uses XML to define and implement electronic contracts. The foundation of tpaML is the Trading Partner Agreement (TPA), which defines how trading partners will interact at the transport, document exchange and business protocol layers. A TPA contains the general contract terms and conditions, participant roles (buyers, sellers), communication and security protocols and business processes, (valid actions, sequencing rules, etc.). XML-based TPA documents capture the essential information upon which trading partners must agree in order for their applications and business processes to communicate. tpaML is a complementary technology to ebXML, the Electronic Business XML initiative, which is a joint effort of the United Nations/CEFACT and OASIS to establish a global framework for the exchange of electronic business data."

From the specification: "Information in the TPA includes:

  1. Identification to identify uniquely the TPA document, and the parties,
  2. Communication to specify the transport protocol(s), electronic addresses of the parties,
  3. Security, to define the certificates used for authentication, nonrepudiation, and digital envelope, and other security parameters,
  4. Invocation-Independent Properties to specify overall properties of the TPA, e.g., the valid duration of the TPA.
  5. Data Definition for describing formats of the data being passed around,
  6. Role Definition that describes each of the roles specified in the TPA that can be filled by specific parties,
  7. Action list to describe the requests each party can issue to the other. These actions are the independent units of work. The action definitions define the associated message flows between the invoker and the service provider, responsiveness, failure handling, and other attributes,
  8. Sequencing rules to describe valid action invocation sequences in each party,
  9. Global properties to describe default properties of various fields in the TPA, e.g., responsiveness.
  10. Comments to describe handling of disputes, termination of the TPA as a whole, and other exceptional conditions.


  • tpaML description and specification from IBM

  • Press release: "IBM Selects XML.ORG for Vendor-Neutral Standardization of tpaML XML B-2-B Transaction Specification. XML.ORG, Sponsored by OASIS, Facilitates New Standard for E-Contracts."

  • [September 05, 2000] "ebXML Sets Standard for Electronic Trading Partner Agreements." - "ebXML, a joint initiative of the United Nations/CEFACT and OASIS, announced plans to standardize electronic contracts and trading partnerships using XML. The newly formed ebXML Trading-Partners Project Team will develop a specification to define the technical parameters of trading partner profiles and agreements (TPA). The Trading-Partners team will complement other ebXML> project teams working to develop an open XML-based infrastructure that will enable business information to be exchanged consistently on a global basis. 'Standardizing on a specification for the electronic trading partner agreement is essential to widespread e-commerce,' said Klaus-Dieter Naujok of NextERA Interactive, chair of ebXML and member of the UN/CEFACT Steering Committee. 'TPAs capture critical information upon which organizations must agree in order for their applications and business processes to communicate. TPA will be a key element for interoperability among B2B server implementations.' Martin W. Sachs of IBM, leader of the ebXML Trading-Partners Project Team, defines an electronic TPA as an XML document that records specific technology parameters for conducting electronic business. Partner identification, communications protocol, security for message exchanges (including encryption, authentication, and non-repudiation), definition of requests and responses are all part of a typical TPA. Much of the new project team's initial focus will be based on previously proposed OASIS technical work surrounding tpaML (the Trading Partners Agreement Markup Language). tpaML was originally developed by IBM. The Electronic Business XML Initiative is a worldwide project to standardize the exchange of electronic business data. Sponsored by the UN/CEFACT and OASIS, ebXML will lower the barrier-of-entry to electronic business and facilitate trade, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and developing nations. ebXML is supported by hundreds of industry consortia, standards bodies and companies from around the world."

  • [February 04, 2000] "Executable Trading-Partner Agreements in Electronic Commerce." By Martin Sachs, Asit Dan, Thao Nguyen, Robert Kearney, Hidayatullah Shaikh, Daniel Dias (IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Hts, NY 10598). [January] 2000. IBM. 22 pages. Abstract: "In business to business electronic commerce, the terms and conditions describing the electronic interaction between businesses can be expressed as an electronic contract or trading-partner agreement (TPA) from which configuration information and code which embodies the terms and conditions can be generated automatically. This paper first discusses issues related to contracts and more generally to inter-business electronic interactions. Next, we describe the basic principles of electronic TPAs. The TPA expresses the rules of interaction between the parties to the TPA while maintaining complete independence of the internal processes at each party from the other parties. It represents a long-running conversation that comprises a single unit of business. Next, we describe our TPA language. We then describe tools for authoring TPAs and generating code from them. Finally, we describe an example of an application which can benefit from TPAs."

  • tpaML Specification. Electronic Trading-Partner Agreement for E-Commerce. Pre-submission Draft, Version: 1.0.3. Technical Contacts: (1) Martin Sachs, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, POB 704, Yorktown Hts., NY 10598, USA; email:; (2) John Ibbotson, MQSeries Technical Strategy & Planning, IBM UK Ltd, Hursley Park, Winchester, SO21 2JN United Kingdom; email: "This specification defines the language for creating electronic trading-partner agreements (TPAs) between two business partners (parties to the TPA). Like the trading-partner agreements used in Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), these TPAs define the "information technology terms and conditions" that enable business documents to be electronically interchanged between partners. However, these TPAs are not paper documents. Rather, they are electronic documents, written in XML, which can be processed by computers at the partners' sites in order to set up and then execute the desired business information exchanges. In general, the parties to a TPA can have both client and server characteristics. A client requests services and a server provides services to the party requesting services. In some applications, one party only requests services and one party only provides services. These applications have some resemblance to traditional client-server applications. In other applications, each party may request services of the other. As will be explained later, tags under the <ServiceInterface> tag define the client and server roles of the different parties. A TPA describes all the valid visible, and hence enforceable, interactions between the parties and is independent of the internal business processes of each party. Each party builds its own internal business process to satisfy these external TPAs and interface them to the rest of its business processes. However, the internal business processes are in general not visible to other parties (unless desired by the service providers themselves). The intent is to provide a high-level specification that can be easily comprehended by humans and yet is precise enough for enforcement by computers..." [cache]

  • DTD

  • Schema (XSD)

  • Example in XML

  • Local archive copies [2000-02-04]

  • [July 27, 2000] Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language. "As many of you know, IBM offered its tpaML (Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language) to OASIS last January. As predicted by some people in this Steering Committee, most of the interest in tpaML came from within ebXML as it has obvious connections with the work going on in several of the project teams, most notably TRP and BP. After consultations with many people within OASIS and ebXML, we have decided to slide the tpaML standardization work over from OASIS into ebXML. On the Wednesday of the San Jose meeting, Marty Sachs of IBM's Advanced Commerce Institute will give a one hour talk about tpaML and this should set the stage for the ebXML community to decide exactly how to proceed with it. Marty will be joining IBM's ebXML team and will available for the whole meeting should any one or any group wish to discuss the tpaML spec in greater detail." [From: Robert S Sutor/Watson/IBM@IBMUS]

  • [March 17, 2000] "New Standard Tames Paperwork Beast." By Joseph McKendrick. In ent - The Independent Newspaper for Windows NT Enterprise Computing [Online] Volume 5 Number 4 (March 08, 2000), pages 23, 27. "For years, traditional electronic data interchange (EDI) agreements were forged on paper. Companies signed off on agreed upon specifications for connections, protocols, and types of documents to be passed back and forth. With the Web opening up electronic trading relationships to tens of thousands of new companies, the stacks of agreements going back and forth could wipe out entire forests. Now, a proposed new standard may help companies cement Web trading relationships online, before they start online transactions. IBM Corp. (, which originated the proposal, calls the XML-based initiative Trading Partner Agreement Markup Language (tpaML). Recently, IBM submitted tpaML specs to the XML standards consortium OASIS ( Developed at IBM's Advanced Commerce Institute, the tpaML specification uses XML to define and implement electronic contracts, such as general contract terms and conditions, participant roles, communication and security protocols, and business processes. The tpaML standard defines how trading partners will interact at the transport, document exchange, and business protocol layers. TpaML is a complementary technology to ebXML, the Electronic Business XML initiative, which is a joint effort of the United Nations/CEFACT and OASIS to establish a global framework for the exchange of electronic business data. Vendors that have endorsed tpaML for potential use with their customers include CommerceQuest, DataChannel, Extricity, Geac/JBA, Harbinger, JDA, Infinium, Intelisys, Mincom, PeopleSoft, Sterling Commerce, and Synquest. It is unclear whether Microsoft -- also a member of OASIS -- will buy into the standard or adopt its own variation."

  • [February 10, 2000] "IBM Hopes to Standardize Contractual Exchanges." By Michael Lattig. In InfoWorld (January 31, 2000). "Diverging from the trend that has seen a number of companies offer industry-specific, vertical variations of XML, IBM on Monday proposed an XML-based specification that would provide a standardized form for contracts across industries. Submitted to OASIS (the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards), a vendor-neutral standards body, the proposed tpaML (trading partners agreement markup language) specification would standardize the way companies exchange contracts with their trading partners, said Marie Wieck, director of XML technology at IBM. The foundation of the standard is what IBM is calling the TPA (trading partner agreement), which is simply a document that provides information such as contract terms and conditions, participant roles, communication and security protocols, and business processes. Once those items are determined, tpaML can then be used to capture that information which is essential, and carry out the necessary communications to complete a contractual agreement..."

Hosted By
OASIS - Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards

Sponsored By

IBM Corporation
ISIS Papyrus
Microsoft Corporation
Oracle Corporation


XML Daily Newslink
Receive daily news updates from Managing Editor, Robin Cover.

 Newsletter Subscription
 Newsletter Archives
Globe Image

Document URI:  —  Legal stuff
Robin Cover, Editor: