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OASIS announces final approval for Universal Business Language

UPDATE: Universal Business Language (UBL), the standard for XML business documents in B2B applications, was approved Monday by OASIS, the Boston-based international standards consortium.

Now that it’s an official standard, OASIS and the standard's sponsors led by Sun Microsystems, express optimism that it will facilitate e-commerce by standardizing the XML format of basic business documents. This would mean purchase orders, invoices, and other business forms would be readable by compliant XML applications for e-business transactions.

"Agreement on a common set of business-to-business document standards is essential for successful electronic commerce," writes Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems, who served as chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee and was organizer of the working group that created XML. "UBL provides the world with standard electronic versions of traditional business documents designed to integrate with established commercial and legal practices. Using UBL, businesses of all sizes can enjoy the benefits of electronic commerce."

In response to an email question from PRT, Bosak expressed optimism that UBL will further the movement to "paperless trade" in business transactions.

"Paperless trade refers to the problem of moving traditional paper- and fax-based business processes into the electronic era," Bosak tells PRT. "What's needed here is a standard machine-readable format that maps easily to traditional paper forms. UBL provides not only the document-oriented XML schemas needed to accomplish this but also a mapping of the UBL documents to the international standard for their paper equivalents (called the UN Layout Key)."

The software needed to accomplish this is in the formative stages, according to Bosak.

"Free software is available that can render any UBL document in the standard format, thus enabling the creation of a human-readable document at any time from the electronic form," he tells PRT. "I expect to see vendors of document-based B2B solutions such as Adobe provide sophisticated commercial implementations based on this approach that will free users from the task of rekeying paper documents and provide an entry from below into electronic commerce."

UBL 1.0 is royalty free and the release package is available for download at http://docs.oasis-open.org/ubl/cd-UBL-1.0/.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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