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Towards a Universal Business Language:


Delphi Summit - 10/29/02 ... Towards a Universal Business Language: Developing UBL as an international open standard for the conduct of XML-based electronic business – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Towards a Universal Business Language:

Towards a Universal Business Language 
Developing UBL as an international open
standard for the conduct of XML-based electronic
businessTim McGrath October 2005
  • The OASIS Universal Business Language provides
    XML-based document models for e-commerce
    applications such as service oriented
    architectures and web services. 
  • As such it is an open standard for what is often
    the missing link for these services - the
    structures and semantics of the payload itself. 
  • This presentation will introduce the big ideas
    of UBL and discuss the successes and failures in
    achieving its goals.

Personal Introduction
(No Transcript)
The Universal Business Language
  • International, royalty-free library of electronic
    business documents patterns.
  • Designed in an open and accountable
    vendor-neutral OASIS Technical Committee.
  • Fills the payload slot in B2B web services
  • Both human-readable and machine-readable
  • Designed for compatibility with existing EDI
    systems, existing legal frameworks, and existing
    patterns of trade
  • Intended for normative status under international

UBL is a business vocabulary for XML
HTTP HTML Web Publishing
Web Commerce
UBL the Fifth Generation B2B language
  • UBL represents over six years of continuous
    development in the creation of a standard XML
    business syntax.
  • G1 (1Q 1998) CBL 1.0 (Veo/NIST)
  • G2 (2Q 1999) CBL 2.0 (Commerce One)
  • plus over 20 years of EDI standards development
  • G3 (4Q 2000) xCBL 3.0 (Commerce One and SAP)
  • G4 (1Q 2003) UBL 0.7 (OASIS)
  • G5 (4Q 2004) UBL 1.0 (OASIS)

The Big Ideas of UBL Words cannot convey
the depth of language, and language cannot convey
the depth of meaning.
Confucius (551-479 BCE)
Requirements for Document Exchange
  • A basic requirement for two businesses to conduct
    business is that their business systems
  • The meaning of the information exchanged is
    understood as intended.
  • This has always been true, regardless of the
    technology used.
  • Interoperability requires
  • that parties can exchange information and use the
    information they exchange.
  • that the information being exchanged is
    conceptually equivalent.
  • Easy to express but hard to achieve.
  • Variations in strategies, location, language,
    legacy applications, business processes, and
  • Different contexts of use

Problems with Document Exchange
  • The names of components are only a small part of
    their meaning
  • XML is not self-describing.
  • modelers will often choose different names for
    the same component.
  • Different document samples can lead to
    incompatible models.
  • All model expressions have technological
  • XML schemas cannot do everything.
  • So how do we solve this challenge?

Encouraging the use of Patterns
  • Patterns are models that are sufficiently
    general, adaptable, and worthy of imitation that
    we can use them over and over again.
  • Document exchanges for businesses follow common
  • Using patterns ensures applications and services
    are robust but adaptable when technology or
    business conditions change (as they inevitably

Sidenote on Standards
  • Standards are common patterns that have sanction
    and/or traction.
  • Sanction
  • de jure (ISO/UN/IEC, OASIS)
  • Traction
  • de facto (widely used)
  • History tells us traction is more important than
    sanction (HTML, TCP/IP, MS-Word, etc.. )
  • Sanction is a means to achieve traction not a
    goal in itself!

Patterns Promote Interoperability
  • Interoperability requires all members of a
    trading community to understand the documents.
  • This is facilitated when their syntax and
    semantics conform to common patterns.
  • XML has become the preferred syntax for
    representing information in documents.
  • Now we need to define common patterns for the
    semantics of business documents using XML syntax.
  • - a universal business language

Making it real with UBLTechnology neutral
semantic alignment is unarguably a good thing,
butonly standardization on a single syntax will
yield direct advantages.
Jon Bosak Chair, OASIS UBL TC
Example of a UBL Document
ltcbcLineExtensionTotalAmount amountCurrencyCodeL
istVersionID"0.3" amountCurrencyID"USD"gt438.50lt
/cbcLineExtensionTotalAmountgt ltcacBuyerPartygt
ltcacPartygt ltcacPartyNamegt ltcbcNamegtBills
Microdeviceslt/cbcNamegt lt/cacPartyNamegt
ltcacAddressgt ltcbcStreetNamegtSpring
Stlt/cbcStreetNamegt ltcbcBuildingNumbergt413lt/cbc
BuildingNumbergt ltcbcCityNamegtElginlt/cbcCityName
gt ltcbcPostalZonegt60123lt/cbcPostalZonegt
yCodegt lt/cacAddressgt ltcacContactgt
ltcbcNamegtGeorge Tirebiterlt/cbcNamegt
lt/cacContactgt lt/cacPartygt lt/cacBuyerPartygt
A UBL Implementation
UBL 1.0
  • Released May 1st 2004
  • Basic Procurement Business Process Model
  • Order to Invoice
  • XML Schemas (W3C XSD)
  • Order to Invoice Documents
  • Re-usable Common Component Library
  • XML (XSD) Naming and Design Rules
  • Guidelines for schema customization.
  • Pattern library of conceptual models.
  • Forms Presentations and sample documents
  • Download at http//

Recent UBL Developments
  • UBL International Data Dictionary
  • 600 elements translated into Chinese (Simplified
    and Traditional), Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.
  • UBL Naming and Design Rules (NDR)
  • adopted by chemical industry (CIDX), petroleum
    (PIDX), agriculture (RAPID), real estate
    (OSCRE/PISCES), U.S. Department of the Navy
    (DON), U.S. Taxation (IRS).
  • UBL Invoice used by the Danish Govt.
  • February to April 2005, more than one million
    invoices exchanged.
  • Estimated savings 94 million Euro annually.
  • UBL Invoice used by the Swedish Govt.
  • Announced October 2005
  • Small Business Subset
  • Simple implementation guide for SMEs.

Work Plan for UBL 2.0
  • Extended library.
  • Extended Procurement Process (Europe).
  • Transportation Process Documents (Asia).
  • Electronic Catalogue process (Europe).
  • Improved library.
  • Improve modelling
  • Clearer architecture.
  • Technology improvements
  • All types are global
  • Guidelines for validation of codes
  • Aligning with ISO and UN/CEFACT projects.
  • Core Component Type library.
  • UN/TDED.
  • Release Sept. 2006.

  • Education and Support
  • Challenged by success
  • Documentation
  • Communication
  • Convergence
  • e.g. RosettaNet, OAG, UN/CEFACT
  • Liaison not equal to coordination
  • Customization approach
  • Too constrained
  • What is conformance and compliance?
  • Were still here
  • Arent we there yet?

  • UBL is real
  • The first set of XML documents based on ebXML
    Core Components (ISO 15000-5)
  • A library of reusable data components
  • Stimulation for others
  • Libraries of ebXML Core Components
  • XML Naming and Design Rules
  • Were still here!
  • 138 members (18 voting)
  • Project managing standards development
  • (and theres more!)

  • Internationalization
  • Asia, Latin America, Scandanavia
  • Engagement and adoption
  • Adoption
  • Organic (viral) growth
  • Europe and Asia
  • North America (NDRs)

The Meaning of Internationalization
The Value of Internationalization
The Value of Adoption
The Next Challenge
UBL Standard Needs Wider Use to Succeed 15
November 2004 Recommendations Governments
and other organizations should evaluate adopting
UBL, but cannot anticipate widespread usage soon.
UBL must gain broad adoption by 2008 if it is to
have a significant impact. A
vocabulary-based approach is invaluable for
e-commerce and can save enormous effort in XML
data modeling. Use the extent of UBL's adoption
by specific industries to measure whether it is
living up to its promise. Analytical Sources
Rita Knox, Charles Abrams and Frank Kenney,
Gartner Research
  • The Universal Business Language is an
    international, royalty-free library of electronic
    business documents patterns.
  • UBL is addressing the challenge of supporting
    interoperable business services.
  • We are learning from our failures.
  • We are encouraged by our successes.
  • We are preparing for the challenge ahead.

Thank You
available from MIT Press