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Transaction Authority Markup Language (XAML)

Bowstreet, HP, IBM, Oracle and Sun Microsystems Join Forces to Create Standard for e-Business Transactions Across the Internet

XAML proposal focuses on creating XML standard to guarantee multi-vendor transactional integrity across web services

October 25, 2000.

Leading proponents of e-business interoperability Bowstreet, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM, Oracle Corporation, and Sun Microsystems, today announced they are leading an initiative to define a vendor-neutral industry standard that will enable the coordination and processing of on-line, multi-party transactions in the rapidly emerging world of XML-based web services. The initiative is called XAML (Transaction Authority Markup Language).

Business transactions that involve web services from multiple organizations across the Internet must coordinate their operations in order to handle commits, cancellations, compensations, exceptions and retries, over short and extended periods of time. XAML enables businesses to expose transactional capabilities through their web services, and to mix and match calls to multiple web services to provide an "all-or-nothing" flow of business tasks.

For example, consider an industrial company that needs to purchase a direct material such as benzene to produce its finished goods. The company may look to purchase from a highly visible chemical industry leader. As the company selects the product(s) from an electronic marketplace, it will also specify the required terms of the purchase, such as shipping availability and delivery options, payment financing, casualty insurance and governmental compliance for safe transport. All of these inter-related requirements need to be satisfied prior to a purchase transaction being committed.

This scenario requires coordinated processing of transaction-supporting web services between internal fulfillment services (the chemical provider's inventory system) and external services such as:

  • An insurance policy service to insure the product being shipped

  • A financing service to ensure payment according to vendor terms

  • A transportation service to guarantee timely shipment/delivery of product

  • A regulatory service to ensure compliance with government safety requirements

All of these web services represent a piece of the overall business transaction. Should one of these services fail to commit its operation, XAML provides the protocol that allows the industrial company to interact with other web services to cancel, compensate or find alternative actions. "Companies are beginning the process of exposing and combining their services on the Internet. As these web services interactions mature, the need to ensure the integrity of their customers' transactions becomes more important," said David Smith, vice president and research area director at Gartner. "With broad industry support, efforts such as XAML could make all the difference between a robust and orderly `Net marketplace and one where buyers and sellers spend most of their time resolving fouled transactions offline."

XAML Objectives

The XAML standard will:

  • Provide a specification for the XML message interfaces and interaction models of web services to support the coordination and processing of multi-stage transactions on the Internet

  • Specify interfaces and protocols that preserve investment and strengths in transaction monitors and resources

  • Specify interfaces and protocols that can be "added on" to existing and emerging web service interfaces and protocols

  • Specify interaction models for software systems to provide business-level transactions that coordinate the processing of multiple distributed web services

  • Build on existing and emerging industry standards

The XAML initiative is so-named because it is an extension of XML, the common language of e-commerce, which supports transactional semantics as defined by the widely adopted standard for two-phase commit, XA (Transaction Authority). XAML intends to provide a means for transaction supporting web services to participate in higher-level business transactions.

The XAML proposal will be submitted to one or several standards bodies that may include the W3C, OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) and/or the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force). For more information on XAML, please visit

About HP

Hewlett-Packard Company - a leading global provider of computing and imaging solutions and services - is focused on making technology and its benefits accessible to individuals and businesses through simple appliances, useful e-services and an Internet infrastructure that's always on. HP has 86,000 employees worldwide and had total revenue from continuing operations of $42.4 billion in its 1999 fiscal year. Information about HP and its products can be found on the World Wide Web at

About IBM

IBM is the world's largest information technology company, with 80 years of leadership in helping businesses innovate. IBM Software offers the widest range of applications, middleware and operating systems for all types of computing platforms, allowing customers to take full advantage of the new era of e-business. The fastest way to get more information about IBM Software is through the IBM Software home page at

About Oracle Corporation

Oracle Corporation provides the software that powers the Internet. For more information about Oracle, please call 650-506-7000 or visit

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision - The Network Is The Computer -- has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that power the Internet and allow companies worldwide to dot-com their businesses. With $17.6 billion in annual revenues, Sun can be found in more than 170 countries and on the World Wide Web at

About Bowstreet

Bowstreet provides XML infrastructure for plug-and-play e-commerce. Bowstreet's Business Web Factory and use change automation technology to create business webs: fluid, interconnected collections of web services that come together dynamically over the Internet to create entirely new business models. Bowstreet's pioneering solutions enable companies to sell new products and services, create new channels of distribution and develop new business initiatives at a fraction of the time and cost of many of today's approaches. For more information, visit or call 603-559-1900.

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See: "Transaction Authority Markup Language (XAML)."

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