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OASIS Releases New ebXML Specs

Development of the extensible business extensible markup language (ebXML) continues as a consortium of businesses release Wednesday updated specifications to the ebXML Registry Services Specification and ebXML Registry Information Model.

The OASIS registry technical committee, one of three standards bodies, has already signaled their acceptance of the new specifications; it will now go to the 400 members that make up OASIS for a vote in April. Results of the ballot will be announced in early May.

OASIS, a non-profit international group of computer scientists and businesses, and the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), are two groups founded to encourage worldwide compliance of agreed-upon XML standards.

Kathryn Breininger, OASIS ebXML registry technical committee chair, said the new specs are an ongoing process for the standard's acceptance worldwide.

"The goal of our technical committee at OASIS has been to communicate the functionality of ebXML Registry Services to software developers and specify the interface for Registry clients," she said. "We wanted to provide a basis for future support of more complete ebXML Registry requirements."

OASIS' corporate sponsorship comes from industry heavyweights like Sun Microsystems , Boeing Co. and Fujitsu to provide a common open-source infrastructure for small and large businesses around the world. Using a common XML platform, many agree, lets Web developers share the "behind-the-scenes" information that passes between companies.

As you can expect, any consortium that includes Sun Microsystems will likely stand diametrically opposed to any Microsoft Corp. standard, as was the case initially.

Operating under the guise of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Microsoft developed the simple object access protocol (SOAP), a similar e-business exchange standard, on its own, infuriating many in the development community who were looking to provide an open (read non-proprietary) standard for all to use and develop together.

At first OASIS' members spurned SOAP integration into the ebXML framework, but changed their collective minds in the interest of convergence, not competition.

Karl Best, OASIS director of technical operations, said the new specifications are backwards-compatible with previous versions of ebXML so Web developers who don't upgrade will still be able to share information with other ebXML systems. It also includes support of SOAP 1.1.

"ebXML is a modular suite of specifications that enables enterprises of any size and in any geographical location to conduct business over the Internet," he said. "In addition to the defining and registering business processes through an ebXML Registry, other ebXML specifications provide companies with a standard method to exchange business messages, conduct trading relationships, and communicate data in common terms.''

Put simply, it allows businesses of all types and sizes to send messages over any transport protocol but most generally over the SMTP (email protocol) and HTTP (TCP/IP protocol).