Feeds

XML Tower of Babel - bring on UBL

First-rate draft

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

XML is taking over the world for all sorts of good reasons. But just as we thought that it would solve all our problems and let us build a tower up to the gods, babble intervenes.

XML has allowed messages to be passed from one system to another in such a way that they can be parsed, dissected, queried and rebuilt, but it only deals with the syntax and not the semantics. To take a simple example, different messages using different schemas could have tags like: zip, zipcode, zip_code, post-code, post_code, postal_code, or PostalZone, all of which in a generic sense relate to the same type of data. So a message from one schema has to be transformed into another schema before it can be processed.

This causes considerable redundant processing as well as adding significant opportunities for errors, potential security exposures and a need for additional modelling and testing. It also reduces the opportunity for reuse and discrete services. For example, it should be possible to develop a service that can be handed any XML stream and it will add the insurance group for the PostalZone and pass the message back; this would be much easier if the tag was always the same.

Individual element names are one level of the problem and the next level of problem is messages for typical transactions such as an invoice. Again the advantage of a single agreed format would be immense.

Well, OASIS, the e-business standards organisation, looks as if it has solved this problem with the publication of its Committee draft of the Universal Business Language (UBL) 1.0 last month. This is a major piece of work which is freely available and I believe should be the standard by which all new XML schemas and messages are built. It provides for extensions and is obviously not yet universal in its coverage. It does however cover many of the basic concepts and elements needed as its documents and component library are designed to support a typical order-to-invoice procurement cycle. It includes the following document types: Order, Order Response Simple, Order Response (detailed), Order Change, Order Cancellation, Despatch Advice, Receipt Advice and Invoice.

My initial review of the standard shows a great deal of thought and understanding from the members of the committee. Given its size it is remarkably easy to navigate around and find bits of interest. Ever since my early data modelling experience, with a pre-release version of IMS/DB, deciding how best to deal with addresses has been a major issue. So I looked at this area in particular and it does seem to work well and give the flexibility needed (this is partly due to the greater flexibility of XML over IMS) and I can easily see this becoming the standard. One small criticism is that the definitions are somewhat terse and it is probable that over time they will need to be expanded to ensure real commonality of semantics.

In short, an excellent version one with plenty of promise of more to come.

For the detail go here: you still have time to comment.

© IT-Analysis.com

Related stories

Sun rallies J2EE faithful
W3C completes framework for the Semantic Web
IBM throws weight behind BPEL
IBM moots BPEL-Java fusion

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
China: You, Microsoft. Office-Windows 'compatibility'. You have 20 days to explain
Told to cough up more details as antitrust probe goes deeper
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit
And at the back of the field, Windows 8.1 is sprinting away from Windows 8
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?