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Standards Orgs Sign on as OASIS UBL Liaisons

As evidence that Web services interests are permeating beyond major high-tech companies, data standards organizations representing health care, banking, prescription eyewear, and supply chain management (SCM) Thursday appointed representatives to the OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) Technical Committee.

Healthcare organization HL7, finance group SWIFT, eyecare concern VCA, and SCM purveyor e.centre will look to provide guidance to UBL, whose goal is to devise standard XML business forms for e-commerce. Liaisons are instrumental in making sure that as many trade groups and businesses have input as possible for what could very well become a global standard.

As with many of OASIS' technical committees, the work its members will perform will be to pull existing XML schemas together to come up with one common format for filing purchase orders or invoices. The TC will then design a mechanism for the generation of business schemas through the application of transformation rules to the common UBL source library.

UBL builds on the Electronic Business XML (ebXML) infrastructure developed by OASIS and the United Nations. The ebXML specifications provide for XML registry services, reliable XML messaging, standardized trading partner agreements, a standard data dictionary, and a business context methodology.

Jon Bosak, chair of the OASIS UBL Technical Committee and organizer of the working group that created XML, praised the participation of the organizations as liaisons.

"Our goal of defining a common XML library for basic business documents like purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices crosses all industries," Bosak said. "Contributing to the development of our library of UBL schemas allows industry groups to pool their resources in the design of common business documents and to focus their special expertise on the development of XML schemas for the documents that are specific to their own domain."

Noting that hospitals are not dropping existing XML schemas for UBL, HL7 chair Wes Rishel said that because hospitals and clinics are customers to a number of vendors, using the UBL supply chain documents makes practical sense.

"...we can concentrate on the data standards that require our knowledge of health care without reinventing basic business schemas for supply chain management," Rishel said.

Bill Thomas, CEO of VCA, agreed: "Prescription eyewear is a regulated medical device and is often covered by health insurance plans. All of this results in a vast quantity of very detailed and often vision-specific business transactions. We believe that UBL can help us improve the industry's efficiency in handling thesetransactions."

Organizations that have already appointed liaisons to UBL include: ACORD, representing the insurance industry; ARTS, representing retail sales; ASC X12 and the UN/EDIFACT Working Group, representing U.S. and international EDI standards; EIDX, representing the electronics industry; NACS, representing convenience stores; RosettaNet, the information technology consortium; and XBRL, the accounting industry standards organization.