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Developing open business information exchange documents

Not all XML-ers enjoy committee work. Imagine!

It happens that I do, and I have had the privilege to volunteer in a number of standardization committees over the years related to SGML and XML projects of different kinds, from markup technology committees to markup user committees.

A business document interchange specification governs the structure and expression of information to be exchanged between members of an industry or economic sector. I have come to believe that the burden of developing such a specification is on the users and not on the technical people supporting them. Accordingly, these user groups need processes, techniques and tools to enable subject matter experts to lead the development of open standardized work products.

I've written an essay on how the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) technical committee process supports a group of members from an industry or economic sector in creating business exchange document specifications. The essay is an adaptation of a response I wrote last year for an RFP for the development of such an open document standard in XSD for XML. I ended up no-bidding the contract because the constraints were not loose enough to accommodate my proposal. But my proposal should be of interest to those just embarking on a project to develop exchange specifications without pre-conceived constraints.

I illustrate my points using my experience with the OASIS Universal Business Language Technical Committee that produced the OASIS UBL 2.1 Standard that was subsequently ratified globally as ISO/IEC 19845:2015. The two normative components of the specification are the semantics of the information items and the XSD schemas for XML syntax. Non-normative deliverables include UML models, ASN.1 schemas and JSON schemas.

Those not interested in committee work will find this essay an excellent treatment for insomnia. But for those of us XML-ers who are approached by their management or clients regarding the "big picture" of developing document exchange specifications, maybe even with the goal of developing an ISO standard for such, I hope you find this interesting:


. . . . . . . . Ken

cc: XML Dev, XML-L, W3C XML Schema, UBL Dev

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