XML and EDI Standards Development Process

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. The roots of XML development date back to 1977. It is a subset of SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). XML was developed for the use on the internet by the governing body of the Web known as W3C. XML is similar to HTML, but as the name suggests it is extensible—companies can define their own document structure with custom tags. XML makes it easy to create a structured file because it lets users define their own tags. The file can then be manipulated, updated or queried through a language called XPATH.

Most internet browsers are now capable of reading XML files. XML is most frequently used with a technology know as Web service which provides real time data feeds via the internet-HTTP protocol. For example, a website that uses real-time weather information could subscribe to a Web service data feed that provides real-time weather information. The host would send an XML data feed via the HTTP protocol, and the receiver of the data could use it to display the latest weather information on the website.

The same thing could be done if realtime stock quotes were needed. In the late 1990s, with the rapid growth of the internet, there was a great deal of hype that “XML will replace EDI” because it is more “flexible” and is “free over the internet”. EDI is still the most widely used method for business-to-business transaction communication because it is standardized. There is considerable effort being expended to combine the best features of EDI and XML, and most industry professionals agree that EDI and XML combined, is now more ready for conventional deployment than it ever was.

ebXML: The UN/CEFACT group is the pioneer of trying to standardize XML via the ebXML (electronic business XML) standards project. ebXML defines several standards associated with XML such as the communication protocols, business process specifications and etc.

RosettaNet: Another XML standards development organization is RosettaNet. The organization is based on “open” solutions and includes standards for XML schemas, dictionaries and process specifications The RosettaNet Implementation Framework (RNIF) defines the packaging, routing, and transport of XML messages.

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