OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help

ubl message

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]

Subject: UBL press

Couple of nice plugs for UBL today.




OASIS Approves First International Dictionary for UBL

By John K. Waters

The Universal Business Language (UBL) is on its way to becoming
truer to its name. The English-only standard for XML business
documents in B2B applications, approved last November by the OASIS
standards consortium, has been translated into four new languages.

OASIS last week approved the first edition of the UBL 1.0
International Data Dictionary (IDD), which comprises over 600
business data definitions from the UBL 1.0 schema, combined with
translations of the definitions into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and

The purpose of UBL is to unify the various business "dialects" of
XML used in electronic commerce. UBL standardizes the XML format
of basic business documents, making purchase orders, invoices and
other business forms--the docs used in the "order-to-invoice
process"--readable by compliant XML applications for e-business

The new dictionaries contain both "normative" and "non-normative"
definitions, explains Jon Bosak, editor and chair of the UBL
technical committee. The 600 business data definitions from the
UBL 1.0 schema are standards (normative), but the helpful
translations of English terms--say "line item"--into the various
languages are not yet standards (non-normative).

"In standard work, we try to distinguish between the two," Bosak
tells Programming Trends, "because when we say that something is
normative--a standard--we're making a kind of guarantee."

Bosak, who is a distinguished engineer at Sun Microsystems, has
been called the "father of XML," because of his role as organizer
of the working group that created XML.

Bosak is excited about the prospects of the IDD as a vehicle for
global UBL deployment, but the idea for the project didn't come
from OASIS, he says. "They came to us," he says. "Business groups
from Japan, China, Korea and Spain came to us about a year ago,
and they provided the impetus and the people.

UBL defines a royalty-free library of standard electronic XML
business documents, including Order, Order Response, Order
Response Simple, Order Change, Order Cancellation, Dispatch
Advice, Receipt Advice and Invoice.  Together, they can be used to
implement a generic buy/sell relationship or supply chain whose
components fit existing trade agreements and are immediately
understandable by workers in business, supply-chain management
(SCM), Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), accounting, customs,
taxation and shipping. UBL is designed to plug directly into
existing business, legal, auditing and records management

The four languages currently translated in the UBL IDD are the
just beginning, Bosak says. Next up: Danish. "This isn't
determined by us,"  he says, "so from here on it's going to get
kind of random."

As with all UBL specifications, the IDD is freely available under
terms of the OASIS copyright. Copies of the UBL 1.0 IDD are
available in Excel and OpenOffice formats at the following




UBL: Another Opportunity for FOSS in the Enterprise

By Marco Fioretti <user/800999> on Wed, 2005-04-20 23:00.

A conversation with two of the developers behind a new standard for
achieving a Universal Business Language.

E-business still lacks a universal, cheap and easy-to-implement
standard language. At least, this was the case until a few months
ago. Today, the Universal Business Language
(UBL) is ready to fill this gap, and it looks to be solid offering
rather than yet another bunch of buzzwords. UBL comes from OASIS
<http://www.oasis-open.org>), the same folks who standardized the
OpenDocument format
for office files, and UBL is equally as open. Participation in the
OASIS UBL Technical Committee is open to all organizations and
individuals. OASIS hosts an open mailing list for public comment,
as well as the ubl-dev mailing list for exchanging information on
implementing the standard.  UBL is provided on a royalty-free
basis and is available to all, without licensing or other fees.

UBL starts with three basic premises. First, XML is a wonderful
technology, but in and of itself, it is no guarantee of standards.
Second, no company works in isolation or has contacts only inside
its industry segment. Therefore, if every company had its own
XML-based system, nobody would accomplish anything. Good business
requires efficient, cross-industry communication. Third, forget
about reinventing the wheel or substituting it with some vague,
untested idea. UBL is all about doing tomorrow the same things we
are doing today but in a faster and less error prone way.

The basic goal behind UBL is simply to define a single, XML-based
format for all the usual commercial documents--invoices, purchase
orders and so on. Using this format, an American buyer could
create and e-mail in English an order for, say, one hundred
carpets. The Thai employee who receives the order in her in-box
could open the file with any UBL-enabled application and read it
in her native language; the document already would be formatted
according to local policies and business regulations. In addition
to this, she simply could drag-and-drop the order to the company
inventory system without typing anything, without wasting time and
without risking errors.

UBL also can be used as the business data format in a variety of
Web services. Although solutions to this problem have existed for
years, before UBL, such solutions were cost effective for only
large corporations with millions of transactions to process each

To know more about this UBL standard and how FOSS programmers may
add support for it in office applications, starting with
OpenOffice.org, we talked to Jon Bosak, chairman of the UBL
Technical Committee, and Lars Oppermann, software engineer for the
framework and XML projects in StarOffice/OpenOffice.org.

*Linux Journal:* Let's start by looking at how to add UBL support
to some software applications. Which specifications should a
developer read? Are APIs and libraries already available; if so,
under which license? Would they be constrained, at least today, to
only a few software languages?

*Jon Bosak:* Everything currently available for users and
developers is included as part of the UBL 1.0 specification
<http://www.oasis-open.org/specs/index.php#ublv1.0>. Because UBL
1.0 was released recently as a standard, no APIs or software
libraries are available for it yet. But, I expect to see those
appear as soon as software developers begin to wake up to the huge
business opportunity presented by UBL. I often compare UBL to
HTML. Both are specific XML tagging languages created to enable
interoperability in specific domains, which for HTML was hypertext
publishing and for UBL is business-to-business electronic
commerce. UBL is at about the same place on the adoption curve
that HTML was in 1992. So there is not much support available yet,
but we can expect that to change very quickly as people start to
understand the advantages of a standard approach to business data

*LJ:* How can UBL documents be integrated in current office
environments? Is it already possible to use this standard in
production with OpenOffice.org, Microsoft Office or any other
application, from corporate-level products to SOHO ones?

*JB:* The key here is the creation of plug-ins that will enable
office software packages to translate their internal data formats
to the standard UBL form for output and to perform the reverse
translation for input. Early prototypes have demonstrated the
viability of this approach. Now it's up to the producers of these
office systems to provide the necessary translation capabilities.

*LJ:* Let's hope that free software products will be the among the
first to provide UBL support. It might be exactly what is needed
to make more businesses switch to FOSS to reduce costs.

Is UBL only for business-to-business use, or is it also
usable/needed by private citizens?

*JB:* UBL defines standard forms for basic business messages, such
as purchase orders, shipping notices and invoices. It is not
intended for non-business use. However, some pieces of the UBL
standard, such as the UBL naming and design rules for XML schemas
and the UBL specification for code lists, are being adopted for
other XML standardization initiatives. So, it's quite possible
that future XML standards usable by private citizens may be based
in part on these aspects of the UBL work.

*LJ:* Let's discuss with Lars the technical details of the
problem. Can UBL 1.x documents already be read or written with

*Lars Oppermann:* OpenOffice.org is aiming to support UBL through
its general XML integration efforts. The software can read or
write any XML-based format, including UBL instances, by means of
its XSLT import and export filter. We have worked on a UBL import
of XSLT transformation and used it for demonstration purposes
within the OASIS UBL committee.  In the future, full UBL instance
editing and creation capabilities will be provided through
OpenOffice.org's XForms
support. This approach has shown promising results and already was
demonstrated at XML2004

*LJ:* Who is working on this?

*LO:* The UBL Technical Committee at OASIS has formed a human
interface sub-committee (HISC) that is looking at ways to edit
UBL. This committee also looked at XForms and OpenOffice.org

*JB:* Lately the HISC has made considerable progress in defining
input specifications for UBL documents. These specifications are
not XForms but can be applied using XForms. Micah Dubinko, a
leading XForms expert, has done a lot of work on the spec over the
last few months. To have an idea of what is happening, check out
this wiki <http://wiki.brainattic.info/UBL>.

*LJ:* What would be the best way to start an UBL/OO.o related

*LO:* Getting in touch with the OASIS UBL folks or with the
community at xml.openoffice.org would be the best course of
action. Because the UBL Technical Committee itself is not so much
interested in particular implementations but rather in general
approaches, OpenOffice.org might be the best place.

*LJ:* What about cross-language support? Imagine an English
company sending a purchase order to a French company. The promise
of UBL is it should make it possible for the French user's
software to parse UBL and show on-screen a French version of the
same document. What would OO.o need to do this? More coding--how
much, at which level and why?--or simply the right libraries,
templates and so on?

*LO:* Everybody would need a localized version of the XForms
document that displays the actual instance. Data in the instance
mostly isn't locale dependent. If localized data is contained in
the instance, XForms could provide means for filtering out the
correct values.

*JB:* The UBL 1.0 International Data Dictionary (IDD) provides an
important resource for developers creating localized UBL
software. An IDD draft for Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Spanish
is undergoing balloting as an OASIS Committee Draft and should be
available for public review [sometime in April]. A preliminary
version (Excel, sorry) of the IDD is already available here
In that document, the columns labeled "business terms" are
intended specifically for use in populating localized drop-down
menus and field labels in forms. As with all the UBL 1.0
spreadsheets, the IDD will be provided in both OpenOffice.org and
Excel formats when the Committee Draft is published.

*LJ:* Any other general comments or pointers for developers?

*LO:* No actual coding is needed in OpenOffice.org to support
UBL. You only have to create XForms documents that work on top of
the UBL documents. Also, check out the W3C XForms
<http://www.w3.org/TR/xforms/> pages and the OpenOffice.org XForms
<http://specs.openoffice.org/appwide/xforms/GUI_spec_part1.sxw>. General
XML information on OpenOffice is available here

*LJ:* Thanks to Jon and Lars for their time.

[Date Prev] | [Thread Prev] | [Thread Next] | [Date Next] -- [Date Index] | [Thread Index] | [List Home]