Gartner: New spec will halt 'XML-itis'

Pointing out that XML standards for vertical markets have proliferated into a hodge-podge of competing and redundant data models, Gartner analyst Rita Knox this week advocated a new framework to stop "XML-itis."

Speaking at the Gartner Symposium ITXPO at the San Diego Convention Center, Knox predicted that within five years business transactions would be based on the Content Inspired Component Architecture (CICA).

CICA, a proposed XML specification definition developed by the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12, sponsored by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), can provide flexibility that is missing among the plethora of current XML-based standards, said Knox.

The rigid data models in vertical standards often suffer from fixed definitions that will not work well in the dynamic world of business transactions, Knox said.

In the time-consuming process in which a standards body's working group hammers out a vertical industry's XML definitions, the data model risks being outmoded before it is ever adopted, she argued.

Knox, who has been covering XML for the Stamford, Conn.-based consulting firm Gartner since 1998, offered an analogy to illustrate the problem of trying to do business transactions based on rigid definitions.

"It's as if every morning when you leave your house, you were handed your 500 sentences for the day," she said. "And when you wanted to speak to someone, you said, 'Number 139.'"

In that semantic vein, she said, CICA provides a flexible grammar within which a wide variety of business transactions can be described in XML.

Knox is the author of a recent Gartner report on CICA. For more information, please go to The ASC X12 Reference Model for XML Design can be downloaded from the ASC X12 Web site at

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.


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