UBL paves way for hassle-free e-commerce

Looking to provide a catalyst for e-commerce, OASIS on Monday announced ratification of Universal Business Language (UBL) Version 1.0, which defines a common XML library of business documents for use in online transactions.

UBL 1.0 was approved as an OASIS Standard, the organization’s highest level of ratification.

The royalty-free technology is intended to provide a common set of business-to-business document standards for use in e-commerce. It is designed to plug into existing business, legal, auditing, and records management practices to eliminate the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based supply chains, providing an entry point into e-commerce for small and midsize businesses, according to OASIS.

“The goal (of UBL 1.0) is pretty simple,” said Jon Bosak, chairman of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee and a Distinguished Engineer at Sun Microsystems Inc. “The goal is to define a standard set of XML schemas for common business messages like purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices.”

In development for six years, UBL 1.0 serves as a cheaper alternative to costly EDI systems, according to Bosak.

Serving as the first standard implementation of the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification, UBL offers a library of documents such as purchase orders. Also part of UBL are reusable data components from which an unlimited number of other documents can be constructed, according to OASIS. In addition to the original English definitions, draft translations of UBL data definitions have been presented in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

Among the organizations that contributed to UBL are technology vendors NEC Corp., Oracle Corp., SeeBeyond Technology Corp., and Sun along with the U.S. General Services Administration, U.S. Navy, and The Boeing Co. IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have not participated in development of UBL 1.0, Bosak said.

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