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Last modified: January 30, 2007
Universal Business Language (UBL)


Overview and Major Milestones

OASIS UBL TC: The purpose of the UBL TC is to develop a standard library of XML business documents (purchase orders, invoices, etc.) by modifying an already existing library of XML schemas to incorporate the best features of other existing XML business libraries. The TC will then design a mechanism for the generation of context-specific business schemas through the application of transformation rules to the common UBL source library. UBL is intended to become an international standard for electronic commerce freely available to everyone without licensing or other fees. Sponsor-level OASIS members participating in the UBL TC work as of 2006-12 included: Booz Allen Hamilton; Capgemini; Intel Corporation; Justsystem Corporation ; NEC Corporation; NIST; Oracle Corporation; PTC; Sterling Commerce; Sun Microsystems; The Boeing Company. [August 22, 2003]

[December 19, 2006] On December 19, 2006, OASIS announced that the membership had voted to approve Universal Business Language v2.0 as an OASIS Standard. Editors include Jon Bosak (Sun Microsystems), Tim McGrath, and G. Ken Holman (Crane Softwrights Ltd). "Adoption of UBL 1.0 following ratification as an OASIS standard in November 2004 has resulted in major inputs of new content beyond the eight basic order-to-invoice business documents specified in the original release (Order, OrderResponse, OrderResponseSimple, OrderChange, OrderCancellation, DespatchAdvice, ReceiptAdvice, and Invoice). In particular, contributions from representatives of government procurement, taxation, and transportation agencies in Europe, Asia, and North America have resulted in greatly expanded pre-order and post-invoice capabilities together with the addition of several transport-related document types. There are 23 new UBL 2.0 document types: (1) (1) New UBL 2.0 document types for sourcing: CatalogueRequest, Catalogue, CatalogueItemSpecificationUpdate, CataloguePricingUpdate, CatalogueDeletion, RequestForQuotation, Quotation; (2) New UBL 2.0 document types for fulfilment: ForwardingInstructions, PackingList, BillOfLading, Waybill, CertificateOfOrigin, TransportationStatus; (3) New UBL 2.0 document types for billing: CreditNote, DebitNote, SelfBilledInvoice, SelfBilledCreditNote, FreightInvoice, Reminder; (4) New UBL 2.0 document types for payment: RemittanceAdvice, Statement; (5) New UBL 2.0 supplementary document types: ApplicationResponse, AttachedDocument. The UBL mechanism for specifying and validating code lists has been re-designed to use a two-phase validaton approach with XSLT and Schematron (ISO/IEC 19757-3). The new mechanism makes it easier to modify code lists and perform basic business rule checking. A number of Basic Information Entities and the corresponding XML elements have been changed to better reflect business requirements."

[November 08, 2004]   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 ISO 15000-5 ebXML Core Components Standard. 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."

[April 30, 2004]   Universal Business Language (UBL) 1.0 Approved as an OASIS Committee Draft.    The approval of the Universal Business Language (UBL) Version 1.0 as an OASIS Committee Draft represents a major publication milestone in the arena of e-business message exchange standards development. Freely available to everyone without legal encumbrance or licensing fees, UBL "defines a generic XML interchange format for business documents that can be extended to meet the requirements of particular industries. The specification is designed to provide a universally understood and recognized commercial syntax for legally binding business documents and to operate within a standard business framework such as ISO 15000 (ebXML) to provide a complete, standards-based infrastructure that can extend the benefits of existing EDI systems to businesses of all sizes." The UBL v1.0 Committee Draft release 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. The UBL schemas are "modular, reusable, and extensible in XML-aware ways. Designed as an implementation of ebXML Core Components Technical Specification 2.01, 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." 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. The UBL effort has been directed by Jon Bosak (TC Chair) and Mark Crawford (Vice Chair), together with leadership provided in sixteen (16) UBL Subcommittees. The approved UBL v10 Committee Draft is being submitted to OASIS for public review in preparation for OASIS standardization.

[November 28, 2003]   UBL Version 1.0 Committee Draft Beta Approved for Public Implementation Testing.    The OASIS Universal Business Language Technical Committee has reached a major milestone with the approval of UBL 1.0 Beta as a Committee Draft, now published to enable trial implementations of UBL in realistic business environments. A posting from Jon Bosak (Chair, OASIS UBL TC) announces the results of the TC voting and purpose of the UBL 1.0 Beta draft. The UBL TC was chartered to: "(1) develop a standard library of XML business documents (purchase orders, invoices, etc.) by modifying an already existing library of XML schemas to incorporate the best features of other existing XML business libraries; (2) design a mechanism for the generation of context-specific business schemas through the application of transformation rules to the common UBL source library; (3) produce an international standard for electronic commerce freely available to everyone without licensing or other fees." The UBL 1.0 Beta package approved as a Committee Draft is intended to "provide the specifications needed to begin implementation testing of UBL in advance of its recommendation to OASIS for standardization. Normative components of the CD are intended to represent UBL 1.0 as it will be released in 2004, with the exception of code list validation (which will be addressed by a Code List Subcommittee that has been formed for this purpose) and fixes for any major problems that may be discovered during the implementation phase. The non-normative parts of the draft (e.g., page formatting, illustrations, documentation) will be subject to further editorial work during the implementation phase. The implementation testing phase began as of November 25, 2003 and will end two weeks prior to the UBL TC meeting in Washington D.C., 23-27 February 2004. An implementation subcommittee (UBL ISC) is being formed to coordinate input received during implementation testing."

UBL Development Schedule Update 2003-08: "The first draft (version 0.7) of a royalty-free data representation standard for electronic commerce was released 27-January-2003 by the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee. This UBL 0.7 package gives a good idea of the scope of the UBL project, but the version 0.7 schemas are now out of date and should not be used. More than 100 comments received during the 0.7 review cycle were incorporated into a set of UBL 0.8 data models that were released in June 2003 for focused reviews by teams comparing UBL with requirements from RosettaNet, the Open Applications Group, and the OASIS eGov TC. Those reviews have now been completed, and their results are being incorporated into data models for UBL 1.0. Our current projected schedule for UBL 1.0 is as follows: (1) August 2003: Construction of UBL 1.0 data models; (2) September 2003: Generation of UBL 1.0 schemas; (3) October 2003: UBL 1.0 Beta release engineering and preparation of UBL 1.0 example instances, formatting specifications, UML class diagrams, ASN.1 specification, and associated materials. The release of UBL 1.0 Beta is scheduled for 31-October-2003, beginning a three-month public implementation phase before finalizing the specification for submission to OASIS in February 2004. The UBL Naming and Design Rules and the UBL Guidelines for Code Lists are scheduled for publication at the same time as UBL 1.0 Beta..."

[September 12, 2001]   OASIS Technical Committee Proposed for Universal Business Language (UBL).    A call for participation has been issued in connection with a proposed OASIS Technical Committee for a Universal Business Language (UBL). The new Universal Business Language is proposed as "a synthesis of existing XML business document libraries. Work would begin with xCBL 3.0 as the starting point and to develop the standard UBL library by mutually agreed-upon changes to xCBL 3.0 based on industry experience with other XML business libraries and with similar technologies such as Electronic Data Interchange. The TC will endeavor to develop UBL in light of standards/specifications issued by UN/CEFACT, ISO, IEC, ITU, W3C, IETF, OASIS, and such other standards bodies and organizations as the UBL TC may deem relevant. It would harmonize UBL as far as practical with the ebXML specifications approved in Vienna (May 2001), with the work of the Joint Core Components initiative (a joint project of ANSI ASC X12 and the UN/EDIFACT Working Group), and with the work of other appropriate business information bodies. The primary deliverable of the UBL TC is a coordinated set of XML grammatical components that will allow trading partners to unambiguously identify the business documents to be exchanged in a particular business context." The new OASIS TC is to be chaired by Jon Bosak (Sun Microsystems), and is projected to be completed within 1-2 years. [Full context]

UBL subcommittees as of 2003-08-22 [see also earlier]:

  • UBL Library Content SC. Chairs: Marion Royal and Tim McGrath. "The purpose of this subcommittee is to rapidly develop standard XML business library content by taking an existing library as a starting point and modifying it to incorporate the best features of other existing business and core component libraries. Set of deliverables: (1) Create a BIE Catalog - Identifying the BIE's out of the xCBL Library; (2) XML (XSD) Schemas for business document types; (3) Example instance for each schema; (4) Customization methodology; (5) Documentation for business documents; (6) Publication into Public Registries. Mailing list archive.
  • UBL Naming and Design Rules SC. Chairs: Mark Crawford, Lisa Seaburg, and Mavis Cournane. The purpose of the NDR SC is to recommend to the TC rules and guidelines for normative-form schema design, instance design, and markup naming, and write and maintain documentation of these rules and guidelines. Mailing list archive
  • UBL Context Methodology SC. Chair: Eduardo Gutentag. Chartered to develop a methodology and tools for applying context to the core library of generic business information entities (BIEs) in order to produce contextualized BIEs and to develop initial machine-readable descriptions of context rules in the service of helping the Library Content SC do its work. Mailing list archive.
  • UBL Forms Presentation SC. Chair: Ken Holman. Chartered to (1) liaise with standardization organizations responsible for paper-based business commerce forms regarding evolving requirements for the presentation of information; (2) rapidly develop and document formal technology-agnostic (i.e. independent of any particular presentation technology) Formatting Specifications as interpretations of internationally standardized or otherwise available paper-based forms for the presentation of UBL documents suitable for the human reader; (3) foster implementations of these interpretations through coordination, guidance and responsiveness to queries, in order to test the viability of these Formatting Specifications using different technologies in real-world scenarios. Mailing list archive
  • UBL Context Drivers SC. Chair: Sue Probert. This SC is chartered to work on improvement and further development of the context drivers and their values. Mailing list archive.
  • UBL Tools and Techniques SC. Chair: Gunther Stuhec. The SC will evaluate and recommend to the TC tools and techniques to be used in the development, quality assurance, documentation, maintenance, and revision of the UBL XML data formats, and will write and maintain guidelines reflecting these recommendations. Mailing list archive.
  • UBL Liaison Subcommittee. Chair: Jon Bosak. The SC will receive requests for input from SCs, negotiate review schedules with cooperating organizations, collect and organize formal input from cooperating organizations, convey input to the requesting SCs, and propose policies regarding the relationship of the UBL TC to other organizations for consideration by the TC. Mailing list archive.
  • UBL Marketing SC. Chair: Jon Bosak. [ubl-msc] Mailing list archive
  • UBL Administration SC. Chair: Jon Bosak. [ubl-asc] Mailing list archive
  • UBL Chairs SC. Chairs: Jon Bosak and Mark Crawford. [ubl-csc] Mailing list archive.

[March 14, 2002]   UBL Library Content Subcommittee Releases Draft UBL Library of Reusable Types.    A posting from Lisa Seaburg (Commerce One Labs) announces the availability of UBL Library review package containing draft XML schemas and documentation. The UBL Library Content Subcommittee is developing "a standard XML business library content by taking an existing library (xCBL 3.0) as a starting point and modifying it to incorporate the best features of other existing business and core component libraries. Its goals are to create a BIE Catalog by identifying the Basic Information Entities out of the xCBL Library, to create XML (XSD) Schemas for business document types, and to document a customization methodology." The review package contains a methodology document describing the approach taken in this design work, draft XML Schemas derived from spreadsheets, and sample XML instances of UBL Order documents. The three XML schemas represent the UBL Library, the UBL Order document, and the Core Component Library. Review comment are being accepted through April 08, 2002. [Full context]

[December 06, 2001] "UBL: The Next Step for Global E-Commerce." UBL White Paper. UBL Marketing Subcommittee Draft 0.14. 5-December-2001. 11 pages. "XML is often described as the lingua franca of e-commerce. The implication is that by standardizing on XML, enterprises will be able to trade with anyone, anytime, without the need for the costly custom integration work that has been necessary in the past. But this vision of XML-based 'plug-and-play' commerce is overly simplistic. Of course XML can be used to create electronic catalogs, purchase orders, invoices, shipping notices, and the other documents needed to conduct business. But XML by itself doesn't guarantee that these documents can be understood by any business other than the one that creates them. XML is only the foundation on which additional standards can be defined to achieve the goal of true interoperability. The Universal Business Language (UBL) initiative is the next step in achieving this goal... The primary deliverable of UBL is a set of standard formats for common business documents such as invoices, purchases orders, and advance shipment notices. These formats are designed to be sufficient for the needs of many ordinary business transactions and, more importantly, to serve as the starting point for further customization. To enable this customization, the standard document formats will be made up of standard 'business information entities,' which are the common building blocks (addresses, prices, and so on) that make up the bulk of most business documents. Basing all UBL document schemas on the same core information entities maximizes the amount of information that can be shared and reused among companies and applications. In a UBL-enabled world, companies publish profiles of their requirements for the business documents involved in specific interactions. These profiles specify the business context of each transaction, that is, specific parameters such as the industries and geographic regions of the trading partners. The context parameters are applied to the standard formats to create new formats specific to a given transactional setting. Since these context-specific formats are based on the standard components, interoperability is guaranteed while taking into account the requirements of each party to a particular transaction..." Reference posted on the UBL mailing list December 5, 2001. 'The draft of a white paper on UBL prepared by the UBL Marketing Subcommittee can be found [online]; please review and send comments to Jon Bosak [Chair, UBL Marketing Subcommittee].' Document also available in StarOffice version 6.0 format. [source]

[October 04, 2001] "The Role of XML in Electronic Commerce. Toward a Universal Business Language." By Jon Bosak (Chair, UBL Group; Designated Chair, OASIS UBL TC). Presented at Web Services Japan 2001, Yokohama [25 July 2001] and also for the XML Consortium of Japan, Tokyo [26 July 2001]. Posted to the OASIS UBL list [''] October 4, 2001 under the subject "The July UBL presentation." With comment: "As I noted during our UBL Group meeting in Montréal, the first mention of UBL to the general public came in a keynote speech on electronic commerce that I gave in late July at Web Services Japan 2001. Those of you who caught my earlier presentations at the March EWG meeting and the June X12 and OAGI meetings saw basically the same material. A colleague has just forwarded me a very nice two-page spread on this presentation from the September issue of Nikkei Open Systems, Japan's largest computer magazine. In keeping with the thrust of the talk, the report gives greatest prominence to ebXML, but I am pleased to see that several mentions of the UBL project came through as well. Since this presentation is probably the best set of slides on the subject that I will be able to assemble for a while, I have put a copy [online]. Feel free to forward this URL to anyone needing some background on the UBL initiative at this point..." Available in PDF format (both A4 and 8.5x11), as well as in XML and HTML-slides format. Japanese speakers: "Please see the article about this presentation in the September 2001 issue of Nikkei Open Systems, pages 242 and 243."

On September 21, 2001 the eBTWG Executives announced the XML Business Document Library (XBDL) Project which "is in concept identical to the recently approved work of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee." The eBTWG FAQ document provides some provisional explanation of the relationship between eBTWG activities and those undertaken by UBL and the EWG/X12 Joint Core Components Initiative. See the UBL and XBDL positioning statements from some of the principals.


UBL Interim Deliverables

  • [January 27, 2003]   UBL Technical Committee Releases First Draft of XML Schemas for Electronic Trade.    A posting from Jon Bosak (UBL TC Chair) announces the publication of XML Schemas and related documentation for the Universal Business Language (UBL), released as the "first draft of a royalty-free data representation standard" for electronic business documents. "Intended to become international standards for electronic trade, the UBL schemas contained in the review package specify machine-readable XML representations of familiar business documents. The seven basic documents covered in this release include Order, Order Response, Simple Order Response, Order Cancellation, Despatch Advice, Receipt Advice, and Invoice. Together, they can be used to implement a generic buy/sell relationship or supply chain whose components fit existing trade agreements and are immediately understandable by workers in business, supply-chain management (SCM), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), accounting, customs, taxation, and shipping. These generic schemas are intended to work in a wide variety of business contexts through custom extensions. Automated context configuration will be addressed in a later phase of the effort. The schemas are also designed be used in their generic form in many ordinary business contexts without further modification." The OASIS UBL Library Content Subcommittee requests implementation feedback on these schemas based upon experimental prototypes; the comment period extends through April 14, 2003.

  • [April 08, 2002] "UBL and Industry XML Standards." Position paper. By the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) TC, UBL Marketing Subcommittee. April 02, 2002 [or later]. "XML was designed to specify multiple data formats optimized for different data exchange applications. So the recent explosion of XML specifications resulting from the efforts of industry associations to develop domain-specific markup languages is neither unexpected nor detrimental. In one area, however, these otherwise beneficial XML industry initiatives are creating interoperability problems and impeding the development of inexpensive software. That area is the specification of XML schemas for common business documents such as purchase orders and invoices. While different industries frequently do have slightly different requirements for these common business forms, their similarities far outweigh their differences, and most of the work devoted to the design of these forms in each industry segment is simply wasted effort that would better be deployed in work on XML schemas for the data that is truly specific to a given industry. The goal of UBL is to standardize XML schemas for common business documents so that industry organizations can concentrate on the part of the data interchange problem in which they have special expertise and truly divergent needs... To coordinate the review of UBL schemas by industry organizations, the UBL TC has established a special group, the UBL Liaison Subcommittee, whose members are individuals formally appointed by industry consortia to represent their interests in the UBL work. The members of the UBL Liaison Subcommittee currently include ACORD (insurance industry), ARTS (retail sales), EIDX (electronics industry), RosettaNet (IT industry), X12 (EDI), and XBRL (accounting professionals)..." [cache]

  • [March 19, 2002] "UBL NDR Position Papers." By Members of the UBL Naming and Design Rules Subcommittee (NDR SC). First Public Release. 16-March-2002. 48 pages. Intended audience: EDI experts, business experts, and XML experts interested in the development of an international standard for basic XML business schemas. Version URL: This PDF document contains four separate papers (also described below): (1) "Position Paper: Definition of Elements, Attributes, and Types"; (2) "Position Paper: Code Lists"; (3) "Elements versus Attributes"; (4) "Position Paper: Modularity, Namespaces and Versioning." These papers are considered part of the first UBL review cycle, "being made available at this time to gain early input from UBL liaison organizations" and for wider public review and comment. See the paper abstracts in a bibliographic reference listing.

  • "UBL Library Content Methodology". March 13, 2002. 5 pages. See the news item and the Draft UBL Library Schema.
  • UBL: The Next Step for Global E-Commerce. UBL Marketing Subcommittee White Paper. First [non-draft] edition. 26-December-2001. 11 pages. This UBL white paper "is a living document maintained by the OASIS UBL Marketing Subcommittee and is subject to change as the UBL initiative progresses." Also in in StarOffice 6.0 (compressed XML) format. [cache]
  • Reports of UBL TC Subcommittees. Reports Accepted by the UBL TC 1 November 2001. Report of the UBL Context Methodology SC; Report of the UBL Naming and Design Rules SC; Report of the UBL Tools and Techniques SC; Report of the UBL Library Content SC; Report of the UBL Administrative SC
  • Reports of UBL Group Committees. Reports Accepted as Input by the UBL TC 29-October-2001. UBL Schema Committee Report; UBL Planning Subcommittee Report; DTD/Schema Project Definition Questionnaire; UBL Mapping Committee Plenary Report; UBL Mapping Committee Report; Mapping Committee Strategy Draft Proposal v0.1; OASIS Policy on Intellectual Property Rights (OPI); Liaison Committee Report; Status Report of ebXML & UN/CEFACT Core Components Project Team Activities and Deliverables.


Related Activities

UBL News, Articles, Reports, Papers

  • [January 30, 2007] "SourceForge freeb-ubl Project Releases Implementers Kit for UBL." Staff, freeb-ubl Project Announcement. 2007-01-30. Project administrators from the SourceForge freeb-ubl project have announced the first release of software (Version 1.0) supporting the UBL, ebXML, and CAM specifications. The software is freely available for download and use under the freebXML License Version 2.0. "The project provides free, open source software for the Universal Business Language and the ebXML framework including XSLT stylesheets to generate XForms for creating, editing, and viewing UBL and ebXML documents. The implementers' package for UBL and ebXML consists of out-of-the-box tools to aid with use of the Universal Business Language (UBL) and the standard framework for electronic business with XML, ebXML. Provided is a set of XForms for UBL and ebXML and a set of XSLT stylesheets which can be used to generate the XForms. They are specifically designed for the UBL and ebXML business document types but they may or may not work with other XML models depending on the schema design conventions used in the XML. XForms typically allow input of data and output of XML either in a suitably enabled browser or other devices. This version is provided as a starting point which may be adapted for production use. The XForms- generating stylesheets cater for repeatable elements by generating these for elements which have successive multiple occurances in the XML fed to the XSLT stylesheet. This means that instances fed to the stylesheet in a transformation (with an XSLT processor) may be tailored to match the XForms requirements. Two customizations of UBL which are used as the basis for the XForms in this package are provided, one for UBL 1.0 and one for UBL 2.0. There is a set of XSLT stylesheets to convert instances between UBL 1.0 SBS and UBL 2.0. SBS is the UBL Small Business Subset, a customization of UBL for general use. Use SystML1 can be said to compliant with the UBL 1.0 SBS committee specification if the documents sent with it to another party do not require that more than the elements in the SBS be properly processed by the receiving system. The package is intended to grow over time but this version provides: (1) stylesheets for transforming UBL 1.0 Small Business Subset (SBS) compliant instances (electronic invoices, orders and the like) to their UBL 2.0 equivalents; (2) CAM templates samples for contextual content validation and subset business rules, for illustration; (3) XForms for simple input, editing and viewing with an XForms reader of various UBL and ebXML-BP documents — note that this version focuses on the UBL procurement documents; (4) generator (XSLT) to allow self-build creation of XForms additional to those ready-made, which can be combined with jCAM engine; (5) UBL 1.0 and UBL 2.0 customizations (subsets) for general use with schema files provided (procurement documents) and matching CAM templates; (6) atomic, modular ebXML Business Process (ebXML-BP 2.0) definitions for these documents."

  • [January 16, 2007] "Northern European Countries Target eProcurement Standard Based upon OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) 2.0." By Staff, eGovernment News. "A cooperation of Northern European Countries has agreed on a common implementation of the eProcurement standard UBL 2.0. All European countries are now invited to join the project at a workshop to be held in Brussels on 15 February 2007. Public administrations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland have formed, with the contribution of the United Kingdom, a cooperation in order to support domestic and cross border electronic trade. The name of the collaboration is NES (Northern European Subset) and its aim is to simplify the use of eProcurement for buyers and suppliers, especially among SMEs. The participating countries have identified the urgent need for an open XML based standard covering the entire procurement process from catalogue to invoice. Such a standard is a prerequisite to reaping the benefits of a full electronic procurement cycle. The open international eProcurement standard UBL 2.0 from OASIS is seen by NES as the standard that can fulfill this at present. The NES countries have therefore made a northern European implementation of UBL 2.0 in order to create a common platform for eProcurement. Implementation guides, business rules and processes show how the participating countries plan to apply UBL. The NES countries see UBL as a stepping stone to a unified eProcurement standard within UN/CEFACT, and are therefore actively involved in the work of converging UBL with UN/CEFACT. UBL and the UN/CEFACT Supply Chain Group (TBG1) began the Convergence Project in July 2006 and have already converged on business requirements for seven documents, including the cross industry invoice. The remaining documents will be converged during 2007. NES also sees a unified European eProcurement standard as an instrument for achieving the goals set in the European Action plan i2010 and is therefore encouraging other European countries to join the cooperation and make the implementation available for use in all EU countries. Development of NES is inspired by two years of active deployment in Denmark that legalized use of UBL under the banner OIOXML." See also the workshop (February 2007). Similarly: "European group chooses UBL for cross-border procurement standard," by Brian Robinson.

  • [January 11, 2007] "Closing Keynote, XML 2006." By Jon Bosak (Sun Microsystems). IDEAlliance published the full text of the Closing Keynote given at the XML 2006 Conference in Boston, MA, on 7-December-2006. The keynote was presented by Jon Bosak, Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems and Chair of the original W3C XML Working Group. Excerpt: "When David Megginson asked me to give you this closing keynote tonight, I think he knew that I couldn't refuse an opportunity to come back to the same conference, in the same hotel, at which I had the honor of introducing the SGML community to a product initially known as 'SGML for the Web' but by then repackaged under the name 'XML.'... How far we've drifted from the attitudes that created XML was demonstrated to me recently in the revision to the OASIS UBL Standard for business documents, which is the product of the OASIS technical committee I chair. [UBL story]... The way we actually publish the [UBL] package is as a reasonably well-structured directory tree together with an HTML file that explains the contents and links all this stuff together. The original of this HTML file is a DocBook version from which the HTML is generated using OASIS XSL stylesheets... I'm pleased to report, by the way, that the DocBook original, which we include in the downloadable version of the package, is viewable in both Firefox and Internet Explorer, so you can browse the DocBook version directly, which I think is pretty cool. Yuri Rubinsky would have been pleased. There's actually a name for the kind of stucture we adopted for publishing UBL: it's called a hypertext. The document by which the UBL spec is served out over the web is written in the Hypertext Markup Language and the mechanism by which it's transmitted over the web is called the Hypertext Transfer Protocol. There's a reason that XML was originally called 'SGML for the web.' A large part of the motivation for creating XML was to further the vision of pioneers like Doug Engelbart, Ted Nelson, Tim Berners-Lee, and Yuri Rubinsky. Somewhere in attempting to realize this vision we've gotten hung up in implementing the very first step along the way. We've wandered off into the weeds of commercialization and forgotten that the web we've got is the most primitive form of hypertext that could be imagined — which is why it works, and I don't want to deny that. But this focus on the money to be made right at the start has led us into an explosion of XML applications that focus purely on the exchange of data between computer systems. We've lost track of the human aspect of this to the point where even an organization whose very purpose is the advancement of XML considers it unsuitable for human consumption and requires its specifications to be issued in forms tied to the printed page..."

  • [January 04, 2007] "UBL Methodology for Code-list and Value Validation." By Rick Jelliffe. From O'Reilly Reviews (January 3, 2007). "... Ken Holman sent me copy of the latest draft of the OASIS/UBL Methodology for Code-list and Value Validation, which is a pretty good use of Schematron. It looks like a neat and workable solution to a problem that is somewhere between baroque and a hard place using XSD. Imagine you are a trading company: you have documents which various fields for countries: countries you can send from, countries you can send to, countries the US won't allow you to export to, countries you can use as hubs, countries with regional offices, etc. And you also have lots of other documents with similar or different sets of countries. And countries are only the start: you also have product codes where different fields can have different sets of codes, and so on. And this may vary according to where the document came from (the Libyan branch office may have different rules from the Alaskan branch office). And, of course, the values of codes may have interdependencies, such as "the source must be different from the destination." So lots of uses of a standard vocabulary, but lots of local and changing subsets that are much closer to "business rules" than "datatypes". If you used XML Schemas, you could theoretically derive by restriction all the different subset codes, then use "redefine" on every top-level element that used the subsets. You'd have to do this redefine on base types where possible, so that subsequent derived types would inherit the restriction, perhaps, except then you'd have to check that any subsequent derived types that themselves define restrictions are indeed subsets. Have a breakdown and a good cup of tea. With the Schematron approach, you select the items from the code list you want, and some magic tool provided by the methodology generates the Schematron code, which just uses simple XPaths..." See also: (1) Code List Representation Requirements; (2) OASIS Code List Representation TC.

  • [December 19, 2006] "Members Approve Universal Business Language (UBL) 2.0 as OASIS Standard. New Version of Royalty-Free Standard Features Over 1,000 XML Data Elements for Common Business Documents." — OASIS has announced approval of the Universal Business Language (UBL) Version 2.0 as an OASIS Standard, a status that signifies the highest level of ratification. UBL defines a royalty-free library of standard, electronic XML business documents such as purchase orders and invoices. UBL formats in electronic messages enable direct connection 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. UBL 2.0 features a library of more than one thousand XML data elements based on the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification (ISO 15000-5). Building on the eight core order-to-invoice document types in UBL 1.0, version 2.0 adds twenty-three (23) new document types to accommodate extended procurement scenarios and basic transport processes. Development of these new schemas was funded directly or indirectly by the governments of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, England, Finland, Iceland, Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States. In addition to greatly expanding the range of business processes supported by UBL, version 2.0 also taps the power of W3C XSLT, W3C XPath, and ISO Schematron to provide a breakthrough in code list management. Tim McGrath, vice chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee: "Employing the new 'genericode' XML specification for code list publication currently under development in OASIS, our approach allows trading partners to easily and precisely specify code list subsets and extensions and even to apply them to particular elements and subtrees within UBL instances — all without changing the standard UBL schemas. Once in place, this standards-based process enables the implementation of business rule checking as part of instance validation. Open source software included in the UBL 2.0 release provides this new functionality 'out of the box.'"

  • [December 07, 2006] "Denmark Builds XML-based Web Services Commerce Network." By Michael Meehan. From (December 07, 2006). "A return to the heady notion of business-to-business integration was featured during a session yesterday at the XML 2006 conference. The Danish government plans on instituting a massive service-oriented e-commerce network by late 2007 that will generate Universal Business Language (UBL) 2.0 business documents such as purchase orders and invoices for both public and private sector transactions. In addition to the XML-based UBL documents, the system will leverage Web services standards like SOAP 1.1, UDDI 3.0, WSDL 1.1, WS-Security 1.0 and WS-ReliableMessaging. The system will replace a proprietary Electronic Data Interchange value-added network (VAN) currently used by the Danish government to conduct business, saving on exorbitant per- kilocharacter data transformation costs and opening up the e-commerce network to any business with a Web connection. "It should be as easy to send a business document electronically as it is to send an e-mail," said Mikkel Hippe Brun, chief consultant for Denmark's Center for Service-Oriented Infrastructure, part of the national IT and telecom agency. The new system will be required to handle more than 200 million transactions a year, offer a national services registry and be held up to Danish businesses as a standard Web services reference model for secure, reliable and authenticated transactions. Yet the project has run into a major hurdle in getting its Windows toolkit, based on .NET 3.0 and Windows Communication Foundation, to interoperate with its Java toolkit, based on Apache initiatives like Axis 2.0, Rampart and Sandesha. The governmental approach in Denmark also differs greatly from the private sector initiatives in the U.S. For instance, the WS-I profile, which the Danish project will be leveraging, was put together by user organizations, but hasn't been able to keep up with the rapidity of changes in the Web services/SOA marketplace. Brun added that the government has the clout to create a reference model that the private sector will adopt."

  • [December 06, 2006] "From 18 to 100 Million UBL Messages with a Service Oriented Infrastructure." By Mikkel Brun (Chief consultant, Danish National IT and Telecom Agency) and Christian Lanng (e-business analyst, Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation). XML 2006 Presentation. "Denmark is establishing a national Service Oriented Infrastructure consisting of a number of government controlled replicated UDDI registries and interoperability profiles based on the WS-* stack of standards. The infrastructure will support the reliable, secure and asynchronous exchange of business messages across heterogeneous networks. Electronic invoicing in the public sector is a key driver for the initiative, which will address the 190 million paper-based orders and invoices flowing b2b. The Infrastructure will be operational on July 1st 2007 and most ERP-vendors are expected to support the infrastructure and the upcoming version 2.0 of UBL at this date. The presentation will address the architecture of the Infrastructure, the choice of standards, the developed message handlers, North European collaboration on a UBL 2.0 subset and infrastructure..." See similarly "Large scale validation of millions of UBL Invoices with XML Schema and Schematron" (XML 2005).

  • [November 17, 2006] "Northern European Support for UBL 2.0 Approval." By NES [Northern European Subset of UBL] Steering Group, via Helle Schade-Sørensen and Mikkel Hippe Brun. From OASIS Posting. "Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland and the United Kingdom have formed a collaboration in order to support domestic and cross border electronic trade. The aim is to simplify the use of eProcurement for buyers and suppliers, especially within SMEs. The participating countries see an urgent need for an open XML based standard covering the entire procurement process from catalogue to invoice. Such a standard is a prerequisite to harvest the benefits of a full electronic procurement cycle. We recognize the value of the UBL TC work in providing a practical and pragmatic specification with the recent publication of UBL 2.0. UBL 2.0 is seen as a standard that allows us to harvest the benefits of implementing electronic procurement today. Thus the steering group of NES very much encourages the OASIS members to approve UBL 2.0 in the ongoing ballot. Members of NES have concrete plans for live implementation of UBL 2.0. ERP-vendors have already begun work to implement the standard in their systems and pilot testing has started..."

  • [November 16, 2006] Introduction to the Universal Business Language." By G. Ken Holman. Tutorial presentation at UBL International 2006, a Symposium held November 13 - 17, 2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark (Scandinavian Trade Building, Gydevang 39 - 41, 3450 Allerød, Denmark). Host and co-organizer: Danish National IT- and Telecom Agency, with conference co-organizers: Crane Softwrights Ltd, in partnership with Infomenta. 52 pages. A brief introduction to the Universal Business Language, its objectives, its approach, and the use of technologies to meet international business document interchange requirements... Groups of UBL documents are being defined for two major areas of electronic business (1) Sourcing-to-payment procurement cycle [cataloguing, ordering, invoicing, payment]; (2) Transportation: fulfillment and shipping. Some overlapping of roles between scenarios: the actual roles of parties in UBL transactions is dependent on the context of use, e.g., despatch party and delivery party as applied to the procurement process may differ in the transportation process. Typically two or more trading partners agree to engage in a business transaction. The initial UBL scope is in two areas: procurement of goods or services; transport of goods. A given business transaction may involve a number of participants (parties) — individual, a group, or a body having a role in a business function; a single party may play a number of different roles in a given business transaction; all of the roles in the UBL scenarios are representative and need not actually be realized as real people or parties. Contexts defined for 21 roles exchanging 31 document types. Most document exchanges involve two parties; some document exchanges involve multiple parties..." See also the book description.

  • [November 16, 2006] "EU-Project ABILITIES. Application BUS for Interoperability among SMEs in New EU Member States." By Karsten Tolle (University of Frankfurt). Presentation at UBL International 2006, a Symposium held November 13 - 17, 2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark (Scandinavian Trade Building, Gydevang 39 - 41, 3450 Allerød, Denmark). Host and co-organizer: Danish National IT- and Telecom Agency, with conference co-organizers: Crane Softwrights Ltd, in partnership with Infomenta. "The presentation introduces the EU-Project called ABILITIES (Application Bus for InteroperabiLITy In enlarged Europe SMEs). The project started in January 2006 and is scheduled for two years. IST-02730-STR is co-funded by the European Union. The basic goal of ABILITIES is to study, design and develop a federated architecture implemented by a set of UBL 2.0 messages and basic interoperability services, which aims at supporting SMEs EAI in e-commerce contexts, specifically in less developed countries and less Research and Technology Development intensive industrial sectors. The main target groups are very small enterprises normally not having the knowledge, manpower and systems to adopt new standards like UBL on their own. The presentation will give an overview of the solutions we are planning to enable an easy EAI between these small enterprises without overwhelming them by complex collaboration agreements needed upfront. In addition ABILITIES emphases on features supporting human interactions needed for complex custom product orders, e.g., photo or video attachments explaining the needs of the customer or the offered product of the supplier. Finally the presentation will point out our experience with adopting UBL 2.0 for our purposes. This includes the localization issues of UBL for the five countries and domains we have as test beds. The different industries involved into the ABILITIES project as test beds are: (1) Collaborative business in Retail in Lithuania; (2) Business Process Integration in High-Tech Incubator in Slovakia; (3) Mobile Business support in agro-food industry in Turkey; (4) XML Documents exchange in wood industry in Romania; (5) Semantic Content Reconciliation in the tourism sector in Hungary..." [ZIP source]

  • [November 16, 2006] "From 15 to 100 Million UBL Messages: Status and Future Infrastructure." By Helle Schade-Sxrensen and Mikkel Hippe Brun. Presentation at UBL International 2006, a Symposium held November 13 - 17, 2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark (Scandinavian Trade Building, Gydevang 39 - 41, 3450 Allerød, Denmark). Host and co-organizer: Danish National IT- and Telecom Agency, with conference co-organizers: Crane Softwrights Ltd, in partnership with Infomenta. 31 pages. "The private sector in Denmark is currently exchanging 1,25 million electronic invoices every month based on UBL... Each minute saved in invoice handling of 18 million invoices equals 12 million Euro saved, and 10 minutes handling time is saved using an electronic invoice (120 million Euro). It is estimated that if ordering is also made electronic as much as 17 minutes will be saved in the handling of each invoice (potential savings: 200 million Euro)... Extensive national localization has now resulted in a number of national profiles of UBL 2.0. A new Service Oriented Infrastructure will furthermore be established to support reliable, secure and asynchronous exchange of business messages. Most ERP-vendors are expected to support the infrastructure and UBL 2.0 by mid 2007. [ZIP source]

  • [November 16, 2006] "UBL and UN/CEFACT: Adding Sanction to Traction. A Status Report." By Tim McGrath (Vice Chair, OASIS UBL Technical Committee). Presentation at UBL International 2006, a Symposium held November 13 - 17, 2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark (Scandinavian Trade Building, Gydevang 39 - 41, 3450 Allerød, Denmark). Host and co-organizer: Danish National IT- and Telecom Agency, with conference co-organizers: Crane Softwrights Ltd, in partnership with Infomenta. 21 pages. "Building on the UN/CEFACT and OASIS Cooperation Agreement, UN/CEFACT announced a collaboration plan with OASIS and the UBL TC at their June 2006 Plenary. The objective of this collaboration is for UBL to work within the UN/CEFACT Forum groups to build a common set of electronic business document standards. The plan specifies these deliverables as the future upgrade path for UBL whilst allowing the maintenance of UBL 2 to remain within the existing OASIS UBL TC. In doing so it is intended that UBL will gain the sanction desired by the market without losing the momentum of adoption (the traction) that UBL has already achieved... UBL and UN/CEFACT have different and complementary objectives. Overlaps are being converged. UBL will work with UN/CEFACT to build a common set of eBusiness document standards. UN/CEFACT recognize UBL v.2 as appropriate first-generation XML documents for eBusiness. UBL is the useable stepping stone to a unified UN/CEFACT standard. Future UN/CEFACT deliverables constitute the upgrade path for UBL. In the expectation that UN/CEFACT will produce its own integrated set of XML schemas within a period of three years, OASIS will produce no further major versions of UBL past UBL 2. OASIS will grant UN/CEFACT a perpetual, irrevocable license to create derivative works based on UBL..." [ZIP source]

  • [November 16, 2006] "NES (Northern European Subset of UBL): Introduction." By Kerstin Wiss Holmdahl. Presentation at UBL International 2006, a Symposium held November 13 - 17, 2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark (Scandinavian Trade Building, Gydevang 39 - 41, 3450 Allerød, Denmark). Host and co-organizer: Danish National IT- and Telecom Agency, with conference co-organizers: Crane Softwrights Ltd, in partnership with Infomenta. 24 pages. "As part of the Northern European cooperation on e-commerce and eprocurement, representatives from Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, UK and Iceland is working to develop a Northern European Subset (NES) of UBL 2.0 documents. The NES group is also very active within the collaboration work between UBL and UNCEFACT. The presentation shows the cooperation in NES in order to make interoperability and crossborder invoices possible between the countries, the results and plans. The presentation also includes the implementation of UBL in Sweden. The Svefaktura (Swede-invoice) is based on UBL 1.0... NES: a subset of UBL 2.0. We find that UBL fulfill our requirements very well, but it is also important to work for a harmonisation with UN/CEFACT and we partcipate in TBG 1. We will continue with our work in NES and publish the subset. We have different schedules in our countries regarding implementation, but we participate all in the work. New member states in EU are welcome to participate..." [ZIP source]

  • [November 16, 2006] "Common Platform for E-procurement." By Jostein Frømyr (NES Project Coordinator), and Martin Forsberg (Single Face To Industry, Sweden). Presentation at UBL International 2006, a Symposium held November 13 - 17, 2006, in Copenhagen, Denmark (Scandinavian Trade Building, Gydevang 39 - 41, 3450 Allerød, Denmark). Host and co-organizer: Danish National IT- and Telecom Agency, with conference co-organizers: Crane Softwrights Ltd, in partnership with Infomenta. 29 pages. "The purpose of NES is to: (1) facilitate interoperability and practical use of e-procurment both in domestic and cross border trade — Even if the participants in the working group are mainly from the public sector, the group will try to include both business-to-business and business-to-government e-commerce/eprocurement in its work. (2) facilitate harmonisation of different types of e-procurement documents [this provides an opportunity to base e-procurement documents and processes on a coordinated Northern European subset' (3) contribute to the development and use of an international standard for e-procurement. NES has identified UBL as a free and open format, which at this point in time presents the greatest potential for realizing large-scale ecommerce both in a domestic and a cross-border trade... Furthermore NES recognises the importance of the standardisation work in progress within UN/CEFACT and are actively working for the adoption of the UBL-specifications in the UN/CEFACT framework. NES supports and is committed to the ongoing convergence between UBL and UN/CEFACT... [ZIP source]

  • [September 28, 2006] "OIO Service Oriented Infrastructure: Exchange of Business Messages Over the Internet." By the Danish Government. From OIO (Public Information Online) (September 28, 2006). The OIO (Offentlig Information Online) Service Oriented Infrastructure is an initiative by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, designed with the aim to establish a framework for the exchange of business documents over the internet in a secure and reliable fashion. A Public Review Draft version 0.8 has been released as a set of seven documents, including a general OIO Architecture, Business Profile, OWSA Profile for Message Level Security, OWSA Reliability, OWSA Signature, Basic Profile, and Address Resolving Service. The initiative is primarily targeted at small and medium sized business, and public government. The initiative comprises three elements: (1) An addressing mechanism which enables lookup of service providers and their endpoints; service registration is based on CVR-numbers and possibly EAN location numbers; (2) A web service profile, or a so-called interoperability profile; this profile is a specification of a collection of web service standards, assembled on the basis of a set of business requirements; (3) A software toolkit and a client reference implementation being a so-called message handler. The software toolkit is implemented on both the Java and .Net platforms, in order that software vendors and system integrators in the easiest possible way can offer endpoint lookup with the addressing mechanism, and exchange of business documents in accordance with the profile. Denmark adopted UBL two years ago, and the infrastructure initiative uses UBL bindings.

  • [September 18, 2006] "Danish OIOUBL eBusiness Standard and UBL Version 2.0." Announcement by ITST Denmark. From Cover Pages (September 18, 2006). An announcement from the Danish of National IT and Telecom Agency declares that the Agency is submiting a new 'OIOUBL' open standard for eBusiness documents to public hearing. The standard aims to secure an easy exchange of eBusiness documents between the public and the private sector. Ever since the law of electronic invoicing was put in to effect, the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency has experienced an increase in the demand for open standards that could be applied for the entire eBusiness process and not only be limited to the use of electronic invoicing. As a consequence a new OIOUBL standard is introduced. The standard, which is both open and free to use, includes standards for all the essential documents in the entire eBusiness process. According to Marie Munk, Vice President in the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency: "By 2012 it is required that all exchange between the public sector and the private sector could be carried out by means of IT and the use of open standards. In this regard the OIOBUL marks a significant step on the way. As we stress to accommodate the demands and wishes from the public sector as well as the private sector we hope that the ongoing public hearing will be seen as an obvious occasion to make one's voice heard in this process." The current hearing consists of eBusiness documents that support a basic process of purchase that minor enterprises and smaller public administrations are ex-pected to support. The hearing ends the 13th of October 2006. The new standard is expected to be published by the 13th November 2006. During 2007 new eBusiness documents that support more advanced processes of purchase will follow. From the 13th to the 17th November a major international conference on UBL will take place. The conference includes both a general symposium and more technical courses in the use of OIOUBL and UBL 2.0 which OIOUBL is founded upon. [Final release version of OIOUBL (December 2006)]

  • [July 21, 2006] "Sun Microsystems UBL Non-Assertion Covenant." Sun announcement. "At a conference hosted by the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University yesterday (20 July 2006), Greg Papadopoulos, Sun Microsystems Chief Technology Officer and Executive VP of R&D, announced the issuance of a Non-Assertion Covenant (NAC) for UBL. Sun's unilateral, voluntary waiver of its right to enforce possibly relevant patent claims alleviates the burden upon UBL implementers to negotiate license terms, eliminates paperwork, and creates a favorable environment for the develoment of open-source UBL software. The UBL NAC joins similar declarations regarding SAML and ODF; see for background on these earlier announcements. The full text of the Sun UBL NAC can be found online [Sun Microsystems irrevocably covenants that, subject solely to the reciprocity requirement described below, it will not seek to enforce any of its enforceable U.S. or foreign patents against that portion of a product that implements the Universal Business Language 1.0 specification or any subsequent version of that specification in whose development Sun participates...] [Jon Bosak wrote:] " interpretation of the NAC is as follows. (1) A Non-Assertion Covenant takes Royalty Free up one notch: it is not only Royalty Free, it is also License Free. No need to ask for a license, no need to investigate whether a license is required, no need to think in terms of sub-licensing, no need to figure out how or whom to ask for a license. (2) The NAC contains what Papadopoulos refers to as a 'mutual assured destruction' clause designed to discourage other patent holders from asserting their claims against UBL. It says, in effect, 'We won't shoot you if you don't shoot us or anybody else' — not just us, anybody! (3) It is irrevocable. No one can change or revoke it, not even Sun..."

  • [April 07, 2006] "The UBL Standard: A Foundation Stone for Interoperability?" By Tim McGrath. In Synergy, IDABC's Quarterly Newsletter. (Synergy 06, April 2006). "The sixth issue of Synergy focuses on e-Procurement and the EU's endeavour to modernise, remove the red tape and slash the procurement budgets of the Member States of the European Community. A successfully implemented process of the e-Procurement will benefit large and small enterprises through expanded business opportunities and the public sector will also benefit from considerably reduced procurement costs... While UBL applies across all industry sectors and international trade it is proving particularly popular for government e-procurement. UBL has already been implemented in e-procurement projects by the governments of Denmark and Sweden and is part of the UK government's Zanzibar service. Interest has also been expressed from many other agencies across Europe and East Asia. In the US, pieces of UBL are being used by the US GSA (the federal procurement agency) the US IRS (the federal taxation agency) and UBL will be used in a pilot project by the Dept. of Transport... The Universal Business Language standard UBL 2.0 has already been widely adopted in the Nordic countries. Could it be the standard for all of Europe?"

  • [December 20, 2005] "Another Open Standards Story: UBL." By Jon Bosak (Distinguished Engineer, Sun Microsystems). From Standards at Sun. 2005-12-20. "UBL standardizes a dictionary of more than 600 basic business concepts, associating each one (in the form of an XML element or attribute) with a precise English-language definition. Upon the first appearance of these definitions, groups spontaneously formed in several different countries to translate the definitions and contribute the translations to the UBL effort. The result, with definitions in English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish, has been published as the UBL 1.0 International Data Dictionary. Check it out — there's nothing else like it in the world. And it's all free. A lot of what's happening with UBL looks like a replay of XML almost a decade ago. Just as with XML, a group of world-class experts organized and led by Sun has flown under the radar to create a paradigm-shifting technology almost entirely ignored by the rest of the computer industry. ... UBL is not just a replay of EDI, the 20-year-old technology that still accounts for more than half of all electronic commerce. EDI was never able to standardize to the extent that it could break out of the Fortune 500; every EDI implementation is unique, and every one is expensive. UBL adoption will take place very differently, driven from the top down by governments that have both the need and the authority to impose cost-cutting solutions for electronic procurement. Denmark has shown how to cut through the fog of individual trading partner requirements: it simply wrote the UBL Invoice into Danish law, literally translating the whole XML invoice schema into a national statute and thus mandating a standard that must be supported by 440,000 Danish businesses — and every software company that hopes to sell to them. The effect is to create, for the first time, a target for cheap, off-the-shelf business software. And that's going to change the economics of that whole industry. This doesn't stop with Denmark. In September, the Swedish National Financial Management Authority "recommended" a subset of UBL Invoice for use by 250 Swedish government agencies, estimating that over the next five years, UBL standardization will save the Swedish government four billion kroner — more than 500 million dollars. And UBL schemas are already starting to be bundled into XML products like Altova's XML Spy 2006 and EDI products like GEFEG's EDIFIX. Government support will be even stronger for UBL 2.0, due out in 2006. That version will feature a greatly expanded set of procurement documents created by EU government and taxation experts with funding from the UK government, plus a set of basic transportation documents developed with funding from the governments of China and Singapore..."

  • [November 17, 2005] Using XSL, XForms and UBL Together to Create Complex Forms With Visual Fidelity." By Klaas Bals (Inventive Designer). Presented at XML 2005. "This paper will explain how XSL-FO, XSLT, XForms and UBL can be used together (and how the implementation in Scriptura XBOS is done). Each technology contributes its own strengts to the total solution. XSL-FO for page oriented layout with a visual fidelity, XForms for advanced and flexible forms, and UBL to represent the business data. Together they allow to create UBL documents such as invoices in a very powerful and flexible way, all with open standards. Several challenges are explored. Typically, XSL-FO is used for paginated output, but not for user interaction, where user actions can change the output. XForms is typically used in combination with XHTML to create rich web forms... UBL is a set of schema's for XML business documents, such as purchase orders, invoices, order cancellations etc. Ken Holman has developed XSLT+XSL-FO stylesheets that can render UBL XML instances to XSL-FO and thus PDF and other formats in the UN Layout. This is using XSL-FO 1.0 and it also shows the power of XSL-FO 1.0 right now..."

  • [October 28, 2005] "Document Engineering with UBL: The Missing Pieces for Web Services." By Tim McGrath. Presented at OASIS Open Standards 2005 (Sydney, Ausrtalia). " Document Engineering provides a new approach to modeling the document exchanges between enterprises as a means of customizing them for particular industries or domains (contexts of use). It comprises of a set of analysis and design techniques that yield meaningful models of document exchanges. It encourages re-use of common patterns for models. It synthesizes ideas from business process analysis, task analysis, document analysis, and data analysis. Patterns are models that are sufficiently general, adaptable, and worthy of imitation that we can use them over and over again. Document exchanges for businesses follow common patterns. Using patterns ensures applications and services are robust but adaptable when technology or business conditions change (as they inevitably will). We need to define common patterns for the semantics of business documents using XML syntax — a universal business language... The Universal Business Language is an international, royaltyfree library of electronic business documents patterns." [cache]

  • [April 24, 2005] Tutorial: Creating UBL Conformant Schemas. Presented by Mark Crawford (XML Lead, LMI Government Consulting). OASIS Symposium on the Future of XML Vocabularies, April 2005. 188 pages. "The OASIS UBL 1.0 Standard (consisting of a suite of XSD schema, process models, Stylesheet formatting specifications, sample instances, and other documentation) and the corresponding OASIS UBL XML Schema Naming and Design Rules 1.0 Standard, are rapidly being adopted by both public and private sector organizations around the world. Implementers include the United States Department of the Navy, the United States General Services Administration, the Government of Denmark, the Government of Hong Kong, and many others. A key strength of the UBL XML Schema are their solid foundation in existing international standards - including ISO 11179 Metadata Registry and ISO 15000-5 ebXML Core Components. The OASIS UBL TC developed a comprehensive set of XML Schema Definition (XSD) Language based Naming and Design Rules to optimally transform the ISO 11179/ISO 15000-5 standards-based process and data models into normative schema. This methodology is easily implementable and adoptable by users desiring standards based solutions. Recognizing that customizations will play a role in many implementations, UBL has also defined an extension methodology that will allow for UBL conformant customizations. This tutorial focuses on understanding ISO 11179, ISO 15000-5, the UBL NDR, and creating UBL schema..." On the UBL NDR, see "XML Naming and Design Rules Specifications Published by OASIS, UN/CEFACT, and Navy CIO." [source PDF, and posting; alt URL]

  • [January 31, 2005]   XML Naming and Design Rules Specifications Published by OASIS, UN/CEFACT, and Navy CIO.    Three closely related specifications governing XML naming and design rules have been approved for public release. Each of the NDR specifications builds upon the methodolgy and syntax-neutral object model specified by the Core Component Technical Specification (CCTS) published by UN/CEFACT in conjunction with OASIS as Part 8 of the ebXML framework. The Universal Business Language (UBL) Naming and Design Rules from the OASIS UBL Technical Committee has been approved as an OASIS Standard. The UN/CEFACT XML Naming and Design Rules produced by the Working Group 2 of the UN/CEFACT Applied Technology Group (ATG) has been approved by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business for implementation verification in accordance with Step 6 of the UN/CEFACT/TRADE/22 Open Development Process (ODP). The U.S. Department of the Navy XML Naming and Design Rules Final Version 2.0 published by the Office of the DON Chief Information Officer as part of the DoD Net-Centric Data Strategy supersedes the DON XML Developers Guide, Version 1.1. The NDR specifications have very similar goals, aimed optimizing semantic interoperability, modularity, extensibility, maintainability, and data element re-use through best-practice design of business components. The UBL NDR specification provides guidelines for the construction of XML components for the UBL vocabulary, conveying 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 UN/CEFACT NDR describes and specifies the rules and guidelines that will be applied by UN/CEFACT when developing XML schema; it provides a way to identify, capture and maximize the re-use of business information expressed as XML schema components to support and enhance information interoperability across multiple business situations." The DON NDR "addresses many key aspects of XML schema architecture that are critical to effecting successful data management and harmonization (an XML data management approach, XML namespace and modularity, and versioning) to to provide the DON XML developer with a clear and comprehensive set of XML development rules and guidance that will standardize XML across the DON and promote global interoperability."

  • [May 03, 2004] "OASIS Frees Universal Business Language for General Use." By Darryl K. Taft. In eWEEK (May 03, 2004). "E-business standards consortium OASIS announced that the Universal Business Language (UBL) 1.0 specification has been approved as an OASIS draft and is now available for general use. Jon Bosak, a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems Inc. and chairman of the OASIS UBL technical committee, said UBL 1.0, which OASIS released for general use over the weekend, represents six years of development in building a standard XML business syntax. Bosak said business is built on the use of standard, legally binding documents and that UBL is an effort to bring those documents — such as purchase orders, shipping notices and invoices —online. UBL schemas plug into traditional business legal and records management practices, and they fill the 'payload' slot in XML-based, business-to-business frameworks... Bosak said he sees broader implications for the XML EDI framework enabled by UBL and ebXML that extend beyond B2B relationships and into interactions such as those between governments and their citizens, retailers and consumers, and tenants and landlords, because those relationships depend on the same features required for B2B. UBL 1.0 provides a library of XML schemas for components such as Address, Item and Payment, and other schemas such as Order and Invoice are constructed from the UBL library components. Meanwhile, UBL schemas come with such supporting materials as Unified Modeling Language class diagrams, spreadsheet models, sample instances and formatting specifications..."

  • [May 03, 2004] "Universal Biz Language Ready for Web Services." By Clint Boulton. From (May 03, 2004). "E-commerce standards across the globe could start to align now that standards body OASIS has approved for public use a description language for XML-based purchase orders, invoices and shipping notices. After six years in development, the Universal Business Language Version 1.0 is now available in draft form for users to freely test the specification, according to an OASIS document published Friday. UBL, which aims to provide a universal syntax for business documents, is geared to work within a larger standard business framework such as ISO 15000 (ebXML). Messaging exchange languages such as UBL and ebXML define how enterprises can conduct business across the globe, knocking down barriers associated with distance and language with e-commerce facilitated by Web services... The UBL v1.0 library features XML schemas for eight business document types designed for standard order-to-invoice trading, and support for the customization of UBL in specific trading scenarios. The commercial draft release contains modularized common XML schemas, including Business Information Entities (BIEs), which are assembled into document models such as Order and Invoice, as well as reusable data type schemas, a metadata schema, and thirteen code list schemas..."

  • [April 28, 2004] "UBL: A Lingua Franca for Common Business Information." By Dale Waldt. From "The Universal Business Language ( UBL) is a language for capturing business information for use in integrating business systems and sharing data with trading partners. UBL was designed from the beginning to leverage the many vocabularies and experiences available in existing systems using EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), ebXML, and other XML and Web-based e-commerce systems. The UBL vision is to create a vocabulary for the large bulk of information that is fairly regular between companies, and also to create mechanisms for extending and customizing vocabularies for use in specific contexts (such as industry groups, languages, or national jurisdictions). Currently at version 1.0 Beta, UBL is produced in an open, publicly visible process and is made available without royalties or other fees. The first production implementation of UBL 1.0 Beta went live at the beginning of January. The Danish National XML Committee announced in January 2004 that it has formally adopted an early version of UBL as a standard for e-commerce in the public sector... UBL is designed to facilitate data interchange between entities that may not use common vertical industry vocabularies. A good example might be a scenario involving an electronic equipment manufacturer, a hospital, and a chemical supplier. The electronic equipment manufacturer may already be conducting business electronically with its partners using RosettaNet, the Hospital may be using the vocabularies of HL7, and the chemical producer may be using CIDX (Chemical Industry Data eXchange). Each of these languages is very different and addresses the nuances of goods and services in that industry sector. It is conceivable, though, that the hospital will do business with the equipment manufacturer and the chemical manufacturer, as well as its other partners in the healthcare industry. Rather than adopt each of the vertical industry vocabularies, the hospital could eventually conduct business within healthcare in HL7 and all others in UBL..."

  • [January 29, 2004]   Danish National XML Committee Adopts Universal Business Language (UBL).    The Danish XML Committee responsible for standardization of XML Schemas and Information Objects in Denmark has announced the adoption of the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) as a standard for e-Commerce in the public sector. Operating under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Development and its Coordinating Information Committee, the Danish XML Committee oversees a national XML project that includes the Danish Public Procurement Portal (DOIP). DOIP is an "electronic market place accessible to all public buyers and suppliers in Denmark. Established to create a central access point for all public buyers and their suppliers, the portal provides information on supply, agreements, purchasing- and sales statistics. DOIP is the first public procurement portal in Europe, covering a public sector procurement of goods and services for approximately DKK 100 billion per year." Following a public hearing, the Danish XML Committee adopted UBL version 0.7 "to enable integration between systems controlled by state authorities and the newly implemented portal for public procurement. UBL provides an XML library of common business data components together with a set of standard business documents such as purchase orders and invoices that are assembled from the component library. UBL is the product of an international technical committee of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a non-profit consortium dedicated to the creation of XML standards. Currently at version 1.0 Beta, UBL is produced in an open, publicly visible process and is made available without royalties or other fees."

  • [January 26, 2004] "Denmark Becomes First Country to Adopt OASIS Universal Business Language." - "The Danish National XML Committee announced today that it has formally adopted an early version of the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) as a standard for e-Commerce in the public sector. Following a 30-day public hearing, the Danish XML Committee decided to use UBL 0.7 to enable integration between systems controlled by state authorities and a newly implemented portal for public procurement. UBL provides an XML library of common business data components together with a set of standard business documents such as purchase orders and invoices that are assembled from the component library. UBL is the product of an international technical committee of the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a non-profit consortium dedicated to the creation of XML standards. Currently at version 1.0 Beta, UBL is produced in an open, publicly visible process and is made available without royalties or other fees. The Public Procurement Portal is an electronic market place to which both private and public purchasers and their suppliers have access, and whose functionality, interface, security and transaction costs are regulated by the public sector. It is the first public procurement portal in Europe. The establishment of the Public Procurement Portal is an important part of the strategy to make procurement efficient and is implemented on the basis of the wish to create a common infrastructure for the trade between the public units and the suppliers. With a public sector procurement of goods and services for approximately DKK 100 billion per year, even modest improvements in efficiency will be of great value for Danish society. By virtue of the public sector's purchasing volume, increased use of e-commerce will furthermore contribute to the penetration of e-commerce in Denmark in general. The suppliers will get accustomed to e-commerce and an infrastructure will be established. Particularly favourable arrangements have been made to secure access by small suppliers. 'A royalty free standard with strong and broad vendor support is a key enabler for the development of both e-Business and e-Government. We are pleased to be a part of the OASIS UBL initiative,' said Michael Bang Kjeldgaard of the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency, chair of the Danish XML Committee. 'We have learned valuable lessons from the work being carried out in the OASIS UBL Technical Committee. Not only does UBL deliver a royalty free standard for electronic commerce, but the 'Naming and Design Rules,' that dictate how UBL is expressed in XML Schema, have inspired us in the development of other XML vocabularies'..."

  • [September 15, 2003]   Berkeley Center for Document Engineering (CDE) Promotes XML-Encodable Business Models.    A new Center for Document Engineering has been established at UC Berkeley as a focal point for initiatives in XML and model-based approaches for automatable, standards-based business computing. 'Document Engineering' in the CDE model is a "synthesis of information and systems analysis, business process modeling, electronic publishing, and distributed computing." CDE has been founded by the UC Berkeley School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) and e-Berkeley Program under the direction of Dr. Robert Glushko and a CDE Advisory Board. The Center's goal is to "invent, evaluate, and promote model-driven technologies and methods that allow business semantics to drive IT systems. The CDE will create, collect, and disseminate XML schemas, software, best practices, and other content for building web services and applications that allow business semantics to drive IT systems and automate business processes. The first initiative of the CDE is the Berkeley Academic Business Language (BABL), an evolving set of models and associated XML schemas for the domain of University education and operations. BABL is based upon the Universal Business Language (UBL). A second major CDE initiative is an XML application platform that uses models like those in BABL to implement enterprise-class applications whose core data-models are encoded in XML. This platform allows developers to represent data models, business rules, workflow specifications, and user interfaces as externalized XML documents, rather than mixing and scattering them throughout application code. This will make it easier for nonprogrammers to design, develop, and maintain forms and workflow-based Internet applications."

  • [August 19, 2003] "XML for e-Business." By Eve Maler (Sun Microsystems, Inc). Tutorial presentation. July 2003. 105 pages/slides. ['This tutorial was delivered at the CSW Informatics XML Summer School on 28-July-2003, and subsequently edited slightly to incorporate fixes, notes, and timestamps.'] The presentation provides an opportunity to: "(1) learn about the Universal Business Language (UBL) and its significance to, and place in, modern e-business; (2) study UBL's design center and underlying model -- a model that may be useful for many information domains; (3) study UBL as an application of XML, and its lessons for other large XML undertakings; (4) take a look at some real UBL inputs and outputs along the way... UBL is an XML-based business language standard; it leverages knowledge from existing EDI and XML B2B systems; it applies across all industry sectors and domains of electronic trade; it's modular, reusable, and extensible in XML-aware ways; it's non-proprietary and committed to freedom from royalties; it is intended to become a legally recognized standard for international trade... The Electronic Business XML initiative (ebXML) is a joint 18-month effort of OASIS and UN/CEFACT, concluding in May 2001. The work continues in several forums today with over 1000 international participants; the ebXML vision is for a global electronic marketplace where enterprises of any size, anywhere, can find each other electronically and conduct business by exchanging XML messages... The ebXML stack for business web services includes: Message contextualization [Context methodology]; Standard messages [Core components]; Business agreements [CPPA]; Business processes [BPSS]; Packaging/transport [ebMS]... The ebXML Core Components Technical Specification is at version 1.90; it is syntax neutral and ready for mapping. This includes the Context Methodology work, which likewise is syntax neutral rather than syntax bound. UBL proposes to flesh out the ebXML stack, using the UBL Context Methodology with ebXML Context Methodology and the UBL Library with ebXML Core components... The ebXML Core Components substrate allows for correlation between different syntactic forms of business data that has the same meaning and purpose; UBL is striving to use the CCTS metamodel accurately... UBL offers important and interesting solutions: as a B2B standard, it is user-driven, with deep experience and partnership resources to call on; it is committed to truly global trade and interoperability; its standards process is transparent. As an XML application, it is layered on existing successful standards; it is tackling difficult technical problems without losing sight of the human dimension..." [adapted/excerpted from the .PPT version] See the canonical source files in OpenOffice and Microsoft PPT formats. [cache .PPT]

  • [June 24, 2003] "XML Data Binding with JAXB and UBL Source Code. Process XML Documents Without SAX or DOM." By Ed Mooney and Joseph Fialli (Sun Microsystems). In Java Developer's Journal Volume 8, Issue 6 (June 2003), pages 46-50. "XML data binding relieves the pain of any Java programmer who has ever winced at having to work with a document-centric processing model. Unlike SAX and DOM, which force you to think in terms of a document's structure, XML data binding lets you think in terms of the objects the structure represents. It does so by realizing that structure as a collection of Java classes and interfaces... This is especially valuable when lots of applications use the same document schemas. Then the data binding approach yields a set of standard classes and interfaces that are reused across all the applications. This saves work since you don't have to write, debug, and maintain code to extract data from XML. There are even more savings if you're developing an application for one of the many industries that have agreed on standard XML Schemas for business data interchange: finance, travel, auto, and retail, to name just four. This article will look at two new standards: JAXB and UBL... Java Architecture for XML Binding (JAXB) was developed in Java Specification Request (JSR) 31. It was written by an industry expert group under the auspices of the Java Community Process. By standardizing the XML data binding interface and providing a conformance test, JAXB allows you to choose among different XML binding implementations without having to rewrite your application. JAXB also comes with a standard implementation, which we'll use to show you how to bind the UBL schema to Java objects... Universal Business Language (UBL) is an XML-based business language built upon existing EDI and XML business-to-business vocabularies. It's the product of the UBL Technical Committee of oasis. The committee intends to have UBL become an international standard for electronic commerce. If you're a J2EE programmer, there's a good chance UBL will be a part of your future. The latest UBL 0.7 release contains schema, sample XML documents, specifications, and documentation. It's perfect for experimenting with UBL applications. We're going to do just that using Java bindings generated by JAXB from the UBL schema..." With source code. [alt URL]

  • [June 17, 2003] "Documents Revisited: eCommerce for Everyone." By Jon Bosak (Sun Microsystems). Presented at the "Technology Roadmap Seminar: Extracting IT from XML and Web Services," hosted by Enterprise Ireland (Glasnevin, Dublin), 12-May-2003. This document represents a slightly revised version of the slide presentation used in Bosak's XML Europe 2003 Opening Keynote Address "The Universal Business Language (UBL)." Available also in OpenOffice format. 24 pages. "[Here is] The Big Picture: the UN Millenium Goal Number 8 is to 'develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory and includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction -- both nationally and internationally.' A fair and open global electronic marketplace would: allow big companies to extend their electronic trading relationships to small and medium-size companies; allow small companies to participate on an equal basis; put small nations on an equal commercial footing with big ones; and solve a lot of economic and social problems. So... how do we do this? The problem is the cost of entry: most e-commerce is B2B, Most B2B is EDI, EDI is expensive, so most small businesses are locked out... The addition of a few key enablers to the ubiquitous Internet can bring small and medium-sized businesses into global e-commerce: (1) A document-centric architecture; (2) A standard royalty-free XML B2B tag set; (3) A standard royalty-free B2B infrastructure; (4) A standard royalty-free office productivity format; (5) Free open-source software to make it all happen. A document-centric architecture envisions that business is built on the concept of standard, legally binding documents. Putting business as we understand it online means putting those documents online... Business is about intent and intent is about meaning. The hard part of e-commerce is the definition of shared semantics. Documents are the universally understood way to convey semantic information. Documents keep humans in the loop [in terms of] error handling, legal action, and records management (audit trail). The system has to remain transparent to humans. XML document standardization is the way to do this... Enabler #2 is a common business tag set, viz., UBL, defining a library of standard electronic business documents. It plugs directly into existing traditional business, legal, and records management practices and eliminates re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based supply chains; it fills the payload slot in B2B frameworks such as the UN/OASIS ebXML initiative and various 'web services' schemes, extending global trade to businesses of all sizes..." [adapted; see the full discussion of the five key enablers.] See also (1) "Bosak on Universal Business Language" by Simon St.Laurent, and similarly (2) "Reports from XML Europe 2003."

  • [May 15, 2003] "Bosak on Universal Business Language (UBL)." By Simon St.Laurent. From (May 15, 2003). "At last week's XML Europe, Jon Bosak, the 'father of XML', confessed that 'yes, I have visions' as he explained how he hoped XML might help in 'saving the world', leveling the playing field of global commerce by lowering the cost of doing business. Noting that the 'social agenda of SGML has always been about creator ownership of content,' with vendor, platform, and language neutrality at its core - Bosak now wants to take that social agenda and apply it in a much larger context. While documents and data are often considered separate territories, Bosak emphasized that the two work together: 'Business is built on the concept of standard legally binding documents.' Documents are crucial not only as information exchange, but as a key means of keeping humans in the computing loop. Bosak's vision of social change is as much about human business structures as technical ones. Bosak noted that while global integration is a common theme of advertisements for companies selling computer or transportation services, the reality is quite different. Companies that do business on a global scale (and their intermediaries) prefer to use lower-cost EDI transactions, but the initial costs of joining these systems are substantial, keeping out many possible participants... Bridging the gap between the dreams promoted in the advertisements and the reality is difficult, but Bosak sees XML as a key component. Bosak suggests replacing traditional EDI with a multi-layer package, built on standards at all levels: (1) transport -- the Internet; (2) a document-centric architecture -- XML; (3) royalty-free XML B2B tag set -- UBL; (4) royalty-free B2B infrastructure -- ebXML; (5) royalty-free office productivity format -- OpenOffice; (6) open-source software. Bosak described the combination of open source software and open standards as critical to making this project feasible..."

  • [April 17, 2003] "Sun Exec Preaches UBL. Touts XML Business Document Standard for E-Commerce." By Paul Krill. In InfoWorld (April 16, 2003). "Universal Business Language (UBL), a proposed OASIS specification for electronic commerce, presents the potential of enabling smaller businesses worldwide to engage in global commerce alongside major vendors, a Sun official said during a presentation here on Tuesday. Jon Bosak, Sun's Distinguished Engineer and chairman of the OASIS (Organization for Structured Information Standards) Technical Committee on UBL, noted that most e-business is done in a business-to-business fashion. He stressed that a UBL infrastructure could level the playing field for smaller companies that need to conduct electronic business with large companies with expensive EDI systems. 'I think this is how the developing world gets into the party,' Bosak said. UBL defines a library of XML-based electronic-business documents for standardizing functions such as purchase orders and invoices. It plugs directly into existing traditional business, legal, and records management practices and eliminates the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based supply chains, according to Bosak. It also fills the 'payload' slot, or document format, in b-to-b commerce frameworks such as the UN/OASIS ebXML initiative and various Web services schemes, said Bosak. Version .7 of UBL has just undergone a review period. Version 1.0, expected in May, will incorporate comments from a just-concluded review period. Adoption by OASIS would be expected by the end of the year if the organization chooses to take such an action, Bosak said..."

  • [February 19, 2003] "Thinking XML: Universal Business Language (UBL). Examining What May Be The Crown Jewel of XML Business Formats." By Uche Ogbuji (Principal Consultant, Fourthought, Inc). From IBM developerWorks, XML zone. February 2003. ['Universal Business Language (UBL) is an ambitious effort to unify the chaotic world of XML formats for business. Recently, the group behind UBL released the first work products for public review. In this article Uche Ogbuji takes a first in-depth look at UBL.'] "The UBL TC recently produced the first major product for public review: UBL Library Content 0p70. You can download a review package from the home page. I encourage anyone who is interested to have a close look at UBL and send any comments to the UBL TC. This work is royalty-free and all attempts have been made to avoid intellectual property encumbrances on it. It is a rare public benefit to have such an important work so freely available, and we all have much to gain by advancing it. The materials in this release are not in final form: They are expected to be finalized around the middle of this year, and even then only a fraction of the eventual UBL material will have been completed, so there is plenty of time to comment and contribute. The first thing to note about UBL is that it is very large and very comprehensive. The initial release comes as a 5.6 MB ZIP file, and covers what are likely the most common business forms, and perhaps the most often rendered as XML documents: the trading cycle from order through invoice between buyer and seller. Specifically, it includes specifications for the following transactions: Order, Simple and complex order responses, Order cancelation, Despatch advice [(often known as a shipping notice], Receipt advice, Invoice. A set of basic business concepts provides the building blocks for the above specifications. These are called the Basic Business Information Entities (BBIEs) and are expressed as Core Component Types (CCTs) in a common UBL schema. In addition to the BBIEs, different specifications define their own specialized Business Information Entities (BIEs), which make up the UBL conceptual model, organizing business concepts into classes and associations. The UBL conceptual model is based on other modeling systems such as Unified Modeling Language (UML) and Entity/Relational modeling. In fact, UBL uses UML to provide a high-level view of the conceptual models... The last time I discussed UBL in this column, I wondered whether it could be The One that helps unify the chaotic world of XML vocabularies for business. UBL certainly has a lot of potential to be the dominant format. It is very rigorously defined, takes advantage of other work where appropriate, and encourages broad adoption and contribution by remaining royalty-free. It is also in very active development at a time when work on so many other such systems seem to have stagnated... [although] work is needed to extend UBL to all the many different types of transactions used in business, UBL offers many useful products that will be available for immediate use once it is finalized later this year: (1) A core set of transaction formats for an initial set of common business forms; (2) A reusable concept model and vocabulary; (3) Some design practices that borrow the best ideas from a variety of disciplines; (4) A good amount of code to bootstrap applications for processing UBL..."

  • [February 04, 2003] "UBL Set to Shake Up Electronic Commerce." By John Taschek (eWEEK Labs Director) and Jon Bosak (Sun Microsystems). In eWEEK (February 04, 2003). "Since the advent of electronic commerce, standards bodies have been in search of a lingua franca for business communication. Unfortunately, early efforts such as EDI (electronic data interchange) had a high barrier to entry in terms of cost and complexity. However, a new specification -- Universal Business Language -- may actually deliver on the common-language promise. More recently, XML and the public Internet were thought to be likely candidates to succeed EDI. XML, however, was so open that it fragmented into various schemas. Although these schemas are technically compatible with each other, they are next to useless for organizations trying to conduct e-commerce -- just because the alphabets of various languages share the same characters does not mean that everyone is speaking the same language. Still, four of the major XML schemas are widely used: cXML (Commerce XML) is used for automated order receipt and fulfillment, and was spearheaded by Ariba and Sterling Commerce, among others. xCBL, which was developed by Veo Systems (purchased by Commerce One) and was funded in part by the Department of Commerce, is widely used by Commerce One customers and their suppliers. RosettaNet and OAGIS (Open Application Group Integration specification), meanwhile, are two of the more mature standards for business-to-business interoperability. UBL, built on xCBL and governed by OASIS, is meant to be exactly what its name implies: a universal standard for business-to-business communication. The UBL technical committee released its first draft of the specification last week. eWEEK Labs Director John Taschek recently spoke with Sun Microsystems Inc. XML Architect Jon Bosak -- UBL's leading proponent, a founding member of OASIS and the former chair of the W3C XML Coordination Group -- about how UBL can play a part in enterprises right now..." Excerpts: [Jon Bosak:] "... The [UBL XML] schemas we've just released for review are sufficient to implement the basic buy/sell relationship that accounts for most actual trade. They will need further customization for the specialized versions used in certain industries, but I believe that those specialized versions will be based on the generic documents and data components instantiated in this release. The UBL component library has been developed in close coordination with [UN/EDIFACT] guidelines and is slated for contribution to the UN business semantic registry. So what you're seeing now is quite likely very close to what the world will use for XML-based B2B for the next few years. If I were in a business organization considering a move to XML, I'd want to take a good hard look at this review package to make sure that it meets my business requirements before it moves on to standardization... I think it's time for us to face the fact that electronic commerce is a form of commerce, not a form of electronics. People seem to forget that we're not inventing a worldwide system of trade; we've already got one of those, and it's taken about 4,000 years to put it in place. It's got its own methods, its own laws, its own systems of customs and taxation. It's unrealistic to think that we'll transform traditional business and legal systems overnight. What we need are technologies like UBL and ebXML that allow businesses of every size to make the transition to electronic commerce incrementally, to upgrade pieces of their infrastructure in place so that they can achieve maximum ROI within their particular context and with a minimum of disruption to their existing business. By providing standard XML versions of EDI messages and paper documents, UBL is designed to enable this incremental transition to electronic commerce..." With respect to the recently released UBL schemas, see "UBL Technical Committee Releases First Draft of XML Schemas for Electronic Trade." See similarly, "In Search of the Universal Business Language: Which XML Schema Will Do? An Interview with Jon Bosak, Sun XML Architect."

  • [January 13, 2003] "Push for UBL Protocol Gathers Momentum." By Darryl K. Taft. In eWEEK (January 13, 2003). "The goal of a universal language for business messaging will move closer to reality this month when key elements of a proposed standard are released. The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards will release the first schemas for UBL (Universal Business Language), which seeks to standardize XML versions of purchase order, invoice, shipping notice and other business forms. Jon Bosak, a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems Inc. and the lead editor of the original XML specification, has been the force behind UBL. Bosak came up with the idea for a universal business language that draws from existing e-commerce dialects and builds on work started with ebXML (electronic business XML). Bosak also marshaled a UBL grass-roots initiative into an OASIS technical committee. The roster of UBL documents to be released include Order, Order Response, Simple Order Response, Order Cancellation, Despatch Advice (shipping notice), Receipt Advice and Invoice. Bosak, based in Santa Clara, Calif., said these seven documents represent only about 5 percent of the documents used in e-commerce but handle up to 80 percent of the world's supply chain commerce. Bosak said UBL has a source library of about 500 reusable elements. UBL brings the best of electronic data interchange to the Web -- a feat that many have attempted to accomplish, Bosak said. It does this by establishing a standard XML language for business messages that spans industries and supports a standard protocol for business-quality messaging. According to Bosak, UBL and ebXML could do for business-to- business e-commerce what HTML and HTTP did for hypertext publishing..."

  • [December 30, 2002] "Avoiding EDI's Mistakes With Web Services Semantic Interoperability." By David Burdett (Director, Product Management, Web Services, Commerce One). In EAI Journal Volume 4, Number 12 (December 2002), pages 8-11. ['EAI and B2B won't work without semantic interoperability. EDI had the right idea, but allowed too much flexibility and failed to achieve widespread use because it was too expensive to implement. With UBL, the lessons of EDI have at last been learned.'] Article overview: "(1) An analysis of the W3C Semantic Web activity for Web Resources and why it's not ideal technology for EDI/B2B; (2) Why EDI is the best starting point for building an ontology of definitions for business documents in eCommerce; (3) How having a combined ontology definition combined and canonical XML representation of that definition makes B2B integration easier; (4) A description of why a single definition for any business document with never work as you need to account for the different 'contexts' in which a document will be used, e.g., business, locale; (5) A description of why you need a base XML business document that everyone can use and understand combined with 'controlled' extensions to define the additional data needed for different contexts; (6) How UBL is providing a solution to the above, including its current state of development, support and migration to UN/CEFACT. [The UBL TC is] developing a set of business information entities, which are small components such as name and address, amount, or line item. These are then assembled into business document structures such as an order, invoice, etc. Currently, the PO document has been developed. By the end of the year, change order, simple order response (to accept or reject an order), and a complex order response (which allows responses at the line item level) will be added. The UBL library ultimately will also include invoice, dispatch advice, and goods receipt advice... UBL's reach is already broad, with formal liaisons set up with the following associations: ACORD (insurance), ARTS (retail sales), e.centre UK (FMCG), EIDX (electronics), HL7 (healthcare), NACS (convenience stores), RosettaNet (information technology), SWIFT (inter-banking), VCA (prescription eyewear), UN/EDIFACT and X12 (EDI), XBRL (accounting). Although UBL is making great progress, its deliverables aren't available for use. Also, the many different data formats used for integration won't go away overnight. This means that the requirement to understand semantics and map between different formats will remain a significant challenge for a while. So what should you do now? As mentioned earlier, point-to-point mapping between different systems simply doesn't scale. After about four implementations, it's quicker and results in lower maintenance costs, if you translate the structure of all input documents into a single, standard, intermediate format and then translate them to an output structure... Semantic interoperability is hard, but it's an absolute necessity. EAI and B2B won't work without it. EDI had the right idea, but allowed too much flexibility and failed to achieve widespread use because it was too expensive to implement. The lessons of EDI have been learned. You need to define semantics and the structure of messages. You need to provide controlled flexibility so business documents contain the same structures and definitions for data that applies in all business contexts while allowing data that's specific to a particular business context to be added in a controlled way. UBL is building on this EDI heritage and is bringing EDI into the world of XML. You can learn more online..."

  • [December 20, 2002] "Schema Rules for UBL... and Maybe for You." By Eve Maler (Sun Microsystems). Presented at the XML 2002 Conference. 12-December-2002. 46 pages (PDF from slides). "Goals of the presentation are to: (1) Introduce the Universal Business Language and its unique schema requirements and constraints; (2) Describe three major areas of its design, introducing the ebXML Core Components model along the way; (3) Help you decide whether you want to apply any of these design rules to your own project, B2B or otherwise... UBL is an XML-based business language standard being developed at OASIS (though not officially part of ebXML) that: leverages existing EDI and XML B2B concepts and technologies; is applicable across all industry sectors and domains of electronic trade; is modular, reusable, and extensible; is non-proprietary and committed to freedom from royalties; is intended to become a legal standard for international trade... Requirements on schema design were to: (1) Leverage XML technology, but keep it interoperable; (2) Achieve semantic clarity through a binding to the Core Components model; (3) Support contextualization (customization) and reuse; (4) Selectively allow 'outsourcing' to other standard schemas. The special requirement was defined for 'context': Standard business components need to be different in different business contexts (addresses differ in Japan vs. the U.S.; addresses in the auto industry differ from those for other industries; invoice items for shoes need size information; for coffee, grind information). UBL needs this kind of customization without losing interoperability... A constraint on the design rules themselves arose from the the UBL Library design, being specified in syntax-neutral form using the Core Components model; a spreadsheet holds the results; to convert this automatically into XML schema form requires hard rules, not just guidelines..." The prose/prepared text for the presntation is available from IDEAlliance. Its summary: "The OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) effort has several interesting goals and constraints that must be taken into account in the structuring of the UBL Library schemas. This paper discusses some of the major rules developed for the design of the schemas: UBL's connection to the UN/CEFACT ebXML Core Component Technical Specification, its choice of options for element and datatype definitions, and its solution for reusable code lists. The common thread in these rules is the need to achieve a solution that is simultaneously intuitive, flexible, interoperable, and based on standardized semantics. At a time when much W3C XML Schema usage is still experimental in nature, particularly in the development of internationally standard XML vocabularies, the UBL Naming and Design Rules subcommittee has delved into many subtle issues involved in the art of 'schemography' [credits Murray Maloney] and we hope they may be helpful to others..." See: (1) published deliverables from the UBL Naming and Design Rules Subcommittee (NDR SC), specifying rules and guidelines for normative-form schema design, instance design, and markup naming; (2) OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) TC website. [PDF source]

  • [December 20, 2002] "Universal Business Language (UBL): Realizing eBusiness XML." By Mark Crawford (Logistics Management Institute; Vice Chair, OASIS UBL TC; Editor, UN/CEFACT Core Components). From a Plenary Presentation at XML 2002. 60 slides. Also in (source) .PPT format. Section 3 describes the UBL Relationship to ebXML Core Components. "UBL is: Jon Bosak's brainchild; An OASIS Technical Committee; An implementation of ebXML Core Components; An XML-based business language standard-in-progress; A cross-sector XML solution; A Non-proprietary solution that is committed to freedom from royalties; A future legal standard for international trade; The ebXML missing link... Benefits of UBL: (1) Transparent and efficient interface naming and design rules; (2) Harmonization and standardization of business objects; (3) Transparent rules for customer specific interface modifications; (4) Plugs directly into existing traditional business practices; (5) Interoperable with existing EDI systems... UBL Development Strategies: (1) Start with the low-hanging fruit - The 20% of documents and business objects actually used by 80% of electronic business partners; (2) Defer the rocket science to later phases - Produce useful, concrete outputs ASAP; (3) Don't start with a blank slate - We are working from xCBL 3.0, but with no expectations of backwards compatibility; (4) Take advantage of domain expertise - Get XML experts and business experts together and form liaisons... UBL Deliverables include (1) Naming and design rules for UBL XML schemas; (2) Library of standard XML business information entities (BIEs); (3) Set of standard XML business documents - purchase order, invoice, shipping notice, price catalogue, etc.; (4) Context methodology to make the standard documents interoperate across industries... Basic UBL Documents include: (1) Procurement - Purchase Order, P.O. Response, P.O. Change; (2) Materials management - Advance Ship Notice, Planning Schedule, Goods Receipt; (3) Payment - Commercial Invoice, Remittance Advice; (4) Transport/logistics - Consignment Status Request, Consignment Status Report, Bill of Lading; (5) Catalogs - Price Catalog, Product Catalog; (6) Statistical reports - Accounting Report.... UBL Differentiators: (1) Completely open, public, accountable standards process; (2) Non-proprietary and royalty-free; (3) Based on UN, OASIS, and W3C specifications; (4) Intended for normative status under international law; (5) Designed for B2B; (6) Intended for exchange of legal documents; (7) Human- and machine-readable; (8) Compatible with existing EDI systems..." See also the prepared text from "UBL: The Next Step for Global E-Commerce" in the Conference Proceedings.

  • [October 05, 2002] "The Talaris Services Business Language: A Case Study on Developing XML Vocabularies Using the Universal Business Language." By Calvin Smith, Patrick Garvey, and Robert Glushko (School of Information Management & Systems, University of California, Berkeley). 27-September-2002. Revision 4. 16 pages. Published as a case study with the UBL TC Reports from the meeting in Burlington, MA, USA, 1-4 October 2002. UBL Library v. 0.65 Review Package and Supplementary Documents "The development of an XML vocabulary is a complex undertaking. This paper outlines the methodology used in the development of the Talaris Services Business Language (SBL), an XML vocabulary for web-based services procurement developed using the reusable semantic components of the Universal Business Language (UBL). UBL is still an incomplete standard, and the complete UBL model is not yet available in a readily accessible format; many of the decisions we made reflected this reality. Lastly, we discuss the design and implementation challenges we encountered and propose rules and guidelines for similar projects... The Talaris Services Business Language (SBL) is a library of XML document schemas designed to enable service procurement transactions. Companies engaged in business-tobusiness transactions exchange information to complete a transaction, such as the sale of a good, often in the form of a request document and a reply document. This information is typically entered through a web form, put into a batch file, or communicated by invoking an API. An increasingly popular form of communication and online business is through XML document exchange... XML's flexibility to describe documents of arbitrary format is its greatest strength, but it is also its greatest weakness. Since XML has no fixed semantics, it can be used to describe anything. But this means that there is no standard way to describe anything, and different vocabularies may define the same objects with different elements... A need perceived by Talaris for a standardized library of components designed for the electronic procurement of services motivated the development of SBL. In order to remain aligned with the emerging UBL standard, we chose to build SBL using UBL types. Initial SBL design work focused on package shipment and web conferencing service verticals, both of which are offered through the World Wide Web by providers such as FedEx and WebEx. In addition to components specific to these verticals, we constructed core components that could be used for services procurement in other verticals..." [source .DOC]

  • [September 16, 2002] "A Proposal for Unifying the Efforts of UBL and UN/CEFACT's Core." From Ray Walker, via Jon Bosak. Geneva, September 13, 2002. 2 pages. [A posting from Jon Bosak (Chair, OASIS UBL TC) to the UBL Comment list references a proposal to unify UBL and UN/CEFACT efforts. The document's proposal is said to be scheduled for discussion at the next UBL meeting 1-4 October 2002 in Burlington, MA, USA.] "Groups working under the auspices of the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) are currently progressing the development of complementary electronic business specifications. Specifically, these are the core component specifications developed with UN/CEFACT and the Universal Business Language (UBL) specifications developed by the OASIS UBL Technical Committee... Taking into account that [...] it is proposed that the OASIS UBL TC and UN/CEFACT core component and related syntax activities be incorporated into the work plan of the UN/CEFACT Applied Technologies Group (ATG)... All members of the OASIS UBL TC will be granted full member status within the UN/CEFACT Forum, ATG, and ATG working groups immediately upon ratification of this proposal. They shall continue to enjoy membership rights in accordance with the terms of reference of the ATG. UN/CEFACT encourages the OASIS UBL TC members to join the work of other groups or working groups. The resulting work will be published by UN/CEFACT as royalty free, no license required, technical specifications to the world's electronic business community..."

  • [August 30, 2002] "HL7, SWIFT, VCA, and e.centre Join OASIS UBL Liaisons." - "Data standards organizations representing health care, banking, prescription eyewear, and supply chain management have become the latest industry groups to appoint representatives to the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee. HL7, SWIFT, VCA, and e.centre join liaisons from a broad group of industry standards organizations in the subcommittee that provides guidance to UBL, the initiative to define standard XML business forms for electronic commerce... [1] Health Level Seven, Inc. is a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited Standards Development Organization (SDO) dedicated to providing a comprehensive framework and related standards for the exchange, integration, sharing, and retrieval of electronic health information that supports clinical practice and the management, delivery and evaluation of health services. [2] SWIFT is the industry-owned cooperative supplying secure messaging services and interface software to 7,000 financial institutions in 197 countries. [3] Vision Council of America is the U.S. prescription eyewear trade association representing 2,000 supplier companies and 80 leading manufacturers. [4] e.centre is an independent, not-for-profit association providing guidance and support for its 16,000+ members on supply chain efficiency through the use of the EAN.UCC System for bar coding and business-to-business communications such as EDI (electronic data interchange)... Organizations that have already appointed liaisons to UBL include: ACORD, representing the insurance industry; ARTS, representing retail sales; ASC X12 and the UN/EDIFACT Working Group, representing U.S. and international EDI standards; EIDX, representing the electronics industry; NACS, representing convenience stores; RosettaNet, the information technology consortium; and XBRL, the accounting industry standards organization. UBL liaisons provide input to UBL and coordinate the review of standard XML business schemas as they become publicly available. Information about the UBL Liaison Subcommittee and its members can be found on the LSC web page. 'Input from industry data exchange organizations ensures that UBL reflects the needs of the marketplace,' said Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems, chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee and organizer of the working group that created XML. 'Our goal of defining a common XML library for basic business documents like purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices crosses all industries. Contributing to the development of our library of UBL schemas allows industry groups to pool their resources in the design of common business documents and to focus their special expertise on the development of XML schemas for the documents that are specific to their own domain'."

  • [August 05, 2002] "NACS Brings Convenience Stores to OASIS UBL Liaisons." - "NACS, an international trade association representing the convenience store and petroleum marketing industry, has become the latest industry group to appoint a representative to the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee. NACS joins liaisons from a broad group of industry standards organizations in the subcommittee that provides guidance to UBL, the initiative to define standard XML business forms for electronic commerce. NACS is an international trade association representing 2,300 retail and 1,700 supplier company members. NACS member companies do business in nearly 40 countries around the world, with the majority of members based in the United States. The U.S. convenience store industry, with over 124,500 stores across the country, posted $283 billion in total sales for 2001, with $171 billion in motor fuel sales... Other organizations with liaisons to UBL include: ACORD, representing the insurance industry; ARTS, representing retail sales; ASC X12 and the UN/EDIFACT Working Group, representing U.S. and international EDI standards; EIDX, representing the electronics industry; RosettaNet, the information technology consortium; and XBRL, the accounting industry standards organization. UBL liaisons provide input to UBL and coordinate the review of standard XML business schemas as they become publicly available. 'Input from industry data exchange organizations ensures that UBL reflects the needs of the marketplace,' said Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems, chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee and organizer of the working group that created XML. 'Our goal of defining a common XML library for basic business documents like purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices crosses all industries. Contributing to the development of our library of UBL schemas allows industry groups to pool their resources in the design of common business documents and to focus their special expertise on the development of XML schemas for the documents that are specific to their own domain.' The OASIS UBL (Universal Business Language) Technical Committee defines a common XML library for basic business documents like purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices. UBL provides a standard set of XML building blocks together with a framework that will enable trading partners to unambiguously identify and exchange basic e-commerce documents in specific business contexts..." See "NACS XML Data Interchange (NAXML)."

  • [August 02, 2002] "UBL and Web Services." By Matthew Gertner. In XML Journal Volume 3, Issue 6 (June 2002). "In this article we examine the question of standardizing Web service semantics... The challenge of representing all but the most trivial Web service semantics in a machine-readable way was well exposed last fall in an article by Clay Shirky. Existing Web service standards, specifically SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI, provide little more than a way for applications to invoke a Web service once they already know what its interface looks like. This is all very well for Web services whose purpose is sufficiently transparent, but it's exactly these services that are the least interesting. After all, we're talking about revolutionizing computing...By far the most comprehensive effort was launched last year under the name Universal Business Language. Structured first as an independent group, UBL was formally accepted as an OASIS Technical Committee last October. UBL brings to the table a number of strengths, including experienced and proven leadership, broad industry and vendor support, and a solid technical foundation. UBL takes as its starting point xCBL, widely accepted as one of the most comprehensive XML-based business libraries. UBL's Library Content subcommittee has been entrusted with the task of harmonizing xCBL with the fruits of EDI's Joint Core Components initative and with other business libraries, including vocabularies for industry verticals. Official liaisons have been appointed to UBL from several vertical standards organizations to ensure that the basic UBL business documents will work across multiple industries. At the same time, UBL's technical subcommittees are specifying the nuts and bolts that will underpin the document library. These include tricky but important decisions about which schema features to use and how to name tags in a clear, concise, and consistent manner. The ebXML context extension methodology is also being adopted and improved in order to produce an automated procedure for creating extended schemas (e.g., for a specific industry, region, or company) that interoperate with the base schemas in the document library. A first version of the UBL document library is scheduled to be completed 12 months into the effort (a draft of the first schema, for Purchase Order, has recently been released). The context extension methodology will be released approximately one year later - sooner if it turns out that this work can be performed in parallel with the creation of the document library... By defining what in essence are the basic interfaces for a complete set of business processes, the UBL effort will have huge implications for Web services. Consider, for example, a Web service for online payment. The core functionality of this service is to receive invoices, create payment request documents based on these invoices, and settle the payment through a bank payment gateway. The defining principle of Web services is that a service of this type should be able to interact in a plug-and-play manner with other Web services, and that it should be replaceable by any other Web service targeting the same functionality. Without UBL this goal isn't achievable because the exact formats of the invoice and payment documents would have to be determined by the implementer of the system, so they wouldn't be interoperable with Web services from other vendors. UBL solves this problem by providing standard formats for the invoice and payment documents. Any Web service that produces an invoice (a billing service, for example) can thus interface with the payment service. By using the context methodology, subtle differences in invoice and payment formats can be handled without invalidating the overall approach. In addition, the payment service can be swapped for another one, perhaps with some advantages, such as better terms, higher availability, or interfaces to more banks..."

  • [April 22, 2002] "ACORD Brings Insurance Industry to OASIS UBL Liaisons." - "ACORD, the insurance industry standards organization, has become the latest industry group to appoint a representative to the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee. ACORD joins liaisons from a broad group of industry standards organizations in the subcommittee that provides guidance to UBL, the initiative to define standard XML business forms for electronic commerce. 'ACORD has been a long time advocate of working with other organizations to achieve interoperability across industries,' said Gregory Maciag, CEO of ACORD. 'Insurance is not only a vertical market, but also an integral part of international supply chain management. The UBL effort brings together major players in the standards arena to develop ebXML compliant solutions. This is very important to our industry.' Other organizations with liaisons to UBL include: ARTS, representing retail sales; ASC X12, representing EDI standards; EIDX, representing the electronics industry; RosettaNet, the information technology consortium; and XBRL, the accounting industry standards organization. UBL liaisons provide input to UBL and coordinate the review of standard XML business schemas as they become publicly available. 'Input from these pivotal industry groups ensures that UBL reflects the needs of the marketplace,' said Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems, chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee and organizer of the working group that created XML. 'Our goal of defining a common XML library for basic business documents like purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices crosses all industries. Contributing to the development of UBL gives industry groups the opportunity to shape the outcome of our work together'..."

  • [February 20, 2002] Presentation on Universal Business Language (UBL) By Jon Bosak (Sun Microsystems & OASIS). From: [Mark Crawford's] Minutes from the Federal CIO Council XML Working Group. Wednesday, February 20, 2002. American Institute of Architects, 1735 New York Avenue NW, Washington DC 20006. source]

  • [February 19, 2002] "The Universal Business Language." By Jon Bosak (Sun Microsystems; Chair, OASIS UBL TC). Presentation given to the U. S. Government XML Working Group, Washington, D.C., 20-February-2002. 17 pages (34 slides). "UBL: (1) Synthesis of existing XML B2B languages [xCBL, cXML, RosettaNet, OAG, etc.]; (2) Primary inputs: xCBL, ebXML core components, ebXML context methodology; (3) Applicable across any sector or domain of electronic trade, transport, and administration [purchasing, payments, logistics, transportation, statistical reporting, social administration, healthcare, etc.]; (4) Interoperable with existing EDI systems; (5) Based on a core library plus a context-sensitive extension mechanism; (6) Unencumbered by intellectual property claims; (7) Intended to become a legal standard for international trade. The big problem: Context. 'Standard' business document components are different when used in different business contexts. Example #1: shipping addresses: Addresses in Japan are different from addresses in the United States; Addresses in the auto industry are different from addresses in other industries. Example #2: invoice items: An invoice for shoes needs item fields for color; an invoice for gourmet coffee needs item fields for grind; Invoices for microprocessor boards have to contain serial numbers for the processor chips to detect substitution in shipment..." Also in HTML format. [cache]

  • [January 22, 2002] "UBL 'Might Help .NET' Says XML Founder." By [XML-J Staff and] Jon Bosak. In XML-Journal (January 22, 2002). ['Officially titled Distinguished Engineer, the highly articulate Bosak has been Sun Microsystems's point man involved with XML ever since a cross-industry group, organized and led by Sun, first drafted it as a simplified subset of SGML capable of supporting the definition of an unlimited number of special-purpose languages optimized for different specific industries and domains... XML-J Industry Newsletter invited the team-spirited metalinguist to bring SYS-CON Media's audience up to speed on the latest far-reaching e-commerce initiative he's spearheading, namely the Universal Business Language (UBL)'] "...[UBL has] formal liaisons from some key industry groups -- EIDX for the electronics industry, ARTS for retail, XBRL for accounting, and RosettaNet for information technology. I expect quite a few more of these vertical industry organizations to establish relationships with UBL as they start to realize that we're solving some basic information exchange problems that are common to all of them. And we're working on getting liaisons from the main EDI standards bodies, though that takes a while... UBL and ebXML complement each other; they're not competitors. So ebXML is not going to replace UBL. The deliverables promised for ebXML never included a designated XML syntax. The whole project was 'syntax neutral' so that the semantic models could be specified in a way that leaves the binding to a specific notation undefined. This lets you produce XML or EDI versions of the data from the same models. Now if we're only interested in a single XML language for standard business forms, then we can simplify this approach by eliminating that journey out to the abstract layer and just define the data model right in the XML schema. As far as I know, no one has yet identified a data modeling requirement for electronic commerce that can't be met with XML schemas... Thanks to ebXML, we've now got secure XML messaging built on SOAP, we've got a consensus on how to form trading partner agreements, which can be done either manually or automatically, we've got the basic specification for a very powerful taxonomy-driven registry, we've got a technology for the discovery and classification of core data components in the data dictionary, and we've got a preliminary understanding of how a library of components can be changed to reflect the current business context in which they're being used. If you add a standard syntax to the infrastructure pieces already defined by ebXML, we're ready to rock and roll. So even though the more visionary pieces of ebXML still have a long way to go, for projects over the next few years I personally consider ebXML version 1.0 essentially done, and what I want to see us do is start using it..."

  • [November 08, 2001] "High Hopes for the Universal Business Language." By Edd Dumbill. Interview with Jon Bosak. From November 07, 2001. "OASIS, an international consortium that develops XML-based industry specifications, including DocBook, ebXML, and RELAX NG, recently announced the formation of a new Technical Committee (TC) to pursue the development of UBL, the Universal Business Language. Those swimming in the acronym soup of industry XML specifications would be forgiven for being underwhelmed at the news of another XML language. This time, however, it's different for two reasons. First, UBL aims to clear up the current state of confusion, rather than add to it. Second, UBL's being spearheaded by Jon Bosak, who championed the development of XML 1.0 at the W3C. We interviewed Jon Bosak about the new UBL activity, its relationship to ebXML, and its status with regard to intellectual property concerns. ['What were the reasons that led to the formation of the UBL effort?' Bosak:] "Two things, basically. First, the current multiplicity of XML business schemas (cXML, xCBL, RosettaNet, OAGIS, etc.) is causing a lot of headaches for systems integrators and IT managers. This situation is great for companies that sell professional services and transformation software, because it creates a demand for adaptors that can translate between these different formats, but it's a real pain for everyone else, and technically it's completely unnecessary. There are good reasons why a purchase order designed for the auto industry in Detroit won't work 'as is' for the shoe industry in Brazil, but there's no good reason at all why a shoe wholesaler has to buy extra software to enable him to do business with two different Brazilian shoe manufacturers using different purchase order formats to do exactly the same thing. Businesses operating in the same business context should be able to use the same forms of data representation. The second reason for UBL is to jumpstart a worldwide transition to electronic commerce from traditional business processes. Most of the emphasis so far has been on how to enable big multinationals to do business with each other, while relatively little attention has been paid to how we enable small companies to compete in the same virtual business environment. But most of the world's business is, in fact, done by small companies. I want to enable a five-person manufacturer of fabrics in Pakistan to bid on supplying a hundred units out of a purchase request for a million seat covers from General Motors. Seeing both parties to this transaction benefit equally is for me what this is all about... UBL will create a 'Universal Business Language' that will be a synthesis of existing XML business document libraries. We're going to begin with xCBL 3.0 -- because it's already widely deployed and because it's freely available without any legal hassles -- and then we're going to evolve that into UBL by modifying xCBL in order to bring it into line with the other widely used XML business languages and with EDI and the Core Components data dictionary work done in the ebXML initiative. The result of this will be a standard set of XML business document schemas that anyone, anywhere can download and use without having to pay for the privilege and without running into any ownership problems..."

  • [October 26, 2001] "Universal Vocabulary Could Break E-Commerce Language Barrier." Written by Michael Gomez. Analytical source: Rita Knox (Gartner Group, XML lead analyst). In ZDNet TechInfo October 23, 2001. "The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), a nonprofit consortium that promotes development of XML as the foundation descriptive language for e-commerce, announced it had formed a technical committee to define a Universal Business Language (UBL). UBL would provide a set of XML building blocks and a framework that will enable trading partners to exchange business documents in specific contexts. Enterprises eager for standard, reusable vocabularies to facilitate e-commerce no longer fret over who will win the markup language skirmish. Rather, they want to know how to: (1) build transactions in XML; (2) exchange data with business partners, customers, and vendors; (3) assure longevity in the XML data messages that they do adopt. Instead of a 'one true way' consensus XML language, Gartner believes that the answer lies in building e-commerce transactions from reusable XML vocabularies that adopt the same terms when the same meanings and interpretations (by applications) are intended. The components of business exchanges (e.g., 'company,' 'address,' 'part number' and 'price') recur in different messages and among different industries. However, custom XML-defined transactions in every line of business would perpetuate proprietary solutions. If each exchange is unique (i.e., it uses new terms even if the same meaning is intended), computers will confront a tangle of incompatible languages; therefore, they will be unable to share data or reuse software to process the same data stream. OASIS knows about the proliferation of markup languages -- it maintains a database of proposed standards (see By taking a mediating role in resolving the markup language fracas, OASIS can help achieve cost and time savings in many processes in many industries. Initially, UBL aims to prevent chaos by defining a specific vocabulary for e-commerce. If successful, UBL may then prove useful as a framework for creating 'words' in other fields such as science, healthcare, politics, or art. Despite uncertainty over how this initiative will be executed in what will likely be a contentious environment, OASIS's attempt to create vocabularies rather than complete transactions takes a step that enterprises understand and seem ready to support..." [alternate URL]

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