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Subject: [isc] a 1.0 beta invoice - UBL for the small business


I've just sent a real(ish) invoice using UBL. (Admitedly, the receiving party probably has more use for the accompanying pdf than for the xml file attachment I sent). Did it get to be the first non-test invoice? Maybe not. However it did show up a few things which should go back to LCSC.

By way of interest I thought I'd share how I created and processed the invoice (as a very small business). 
I used XML Spy and it's accompanying product Stylesheet Designer (by Altova) to produce an 'sps' file. This is Altova's own XML-based stylesheet language for creating XML-editing templates. It took a few hours to get right but if anyone would like to contribute 'sps' files for simple UBL document production it might greatly help small businesses. [The product 'Authentic' by Altova is free, runs on Windows platforms and can be used with an 'sps' template to create and edit particular XML documents for which the sps was designed. The latter design process requires the non-free Stylesheet Designer (SD).]

I created one sps template for input of an invoice. I further adapted it to create another for displaying and as the basis of an XSLT stylesheet (which incidently the same product automatically generates). I used the former along with XML Spy to create my UBL invoice. I needed to generate a pdf file to accompany the XML invoice in an e-mail to my customer. The enterprise edition of SD generates pdf's automatically but not with the exact same appearance as the HTML rendering which one gets with the WYSIWIG tool via the sps or the XSLT stylesheets. Besides, I did not have the enterprise version installed. So instead, I took the generated XSLT, adapted it a little with XML Spy, then used it with my XML invoice to render HTML. I took the HTML and opened it in Open Office. After a little ore manual editing (unnecessary with a more thorough development effort on the stylesheet, I suppose) I used Open Office to export it as a pdf - voila! The end result was quite satisfactory. I think I may well adapt this and use his method for future invoicing. Perhaps Altova will generously agree to develop proper UBL sps templates at some point a sthey have already done with other standards, including docbook. I hope so, for the small business UBL user. 

Of course I eagerly anticipate the inclusion of such tools into office products since these can also be used to store a small business' accounts (in a spreadsheet, say). With both tools in the same place, for those who use spreadsheets for their accounts, it is hopeful that orders and invoices, etc can be integrated with such accounts even for those on a very tight budget - so encouraging a more widespread adoption of e-commerce through any growing and wished-for ubiquity of UBL, which should in turn increase such ubiquity still further.

All the best

Stephen Green

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