Feeds

XML Tower of Babel - bring on UBL

First-rate draft

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes
Latest bleeding-edge bits borrow Action Center from Windows Phone
Google opens Inbox – email for people too thick to handle email
Print this article out and give it to someone tech-y if you get stuck
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Entity Framework goes 'code first' as Microsoft pulls visual design tool
Visual Studio database diagramming's out the window
Google+ goes TITSUP. But WHO knew? How long? Anyone ... Hello ...
Wobbly Gmail, Contacts, Calendar on the other hand ...
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.