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Subject: Re: Units of Measure

Stephenie Cooper, of HEWLETT-PACKARD, asked "Have we defined the 'human'
in 'human-readable'? Who is going to read raw XML?  What category of

I added "it's reasonable to expect the reader to be an expert in the
problem domain if they're really going to read [an] XML document."  By
this definition, XML documents based on OTA or RosettaNet - the two
frameworks I picked on earlier - are readable: anybody who is an expert
in the problem domain with a few hour's overview of XML (e.g., begin
tags and end tags and well-formedness) will be able to make out most of
the message content.

The same is definitely not true of EDI, X12 or EDIFACT:  the segment
tags may be mnemonic, but even EDI experts have a hard time remembering
which positional element does what in the segment(s).  And there's no
way a problem-domain expert (travel agent), who otherwise only has the
vaguest notion of EDIFACT, would be able to read interactive EDI
messages for the Travel, Tourism and Leisure biz.  But they would be
able to understand a good part of an OTA customer profile message, even
without access to the OTA Message Specifications!   And OTA, like I said
before, does use codes, albeit spelled out as in "Childrens Services and
facilities" (for one of the many possible values for Hotel.PropAmenity)
rather than small mnemonic tags.

This "readability," which EDI clearly does not possess, is obviously a
good part of XML's appeal for B2B messaging.  EDI is perceived to suck,
somewhat because people "generally find pure codes daunting," as Arofan
Gregory suggests.  If only it were that easy: the problems with business
integration will remain after the hype dies down. After we enter the
trough of disappointment, are we going to be left with people reading
raw XML documents, handkeying the data into their order entry systems,
much as they do with rip-n'-read EDI today?

William J. Kammerer
4950 Blazer Memorial Pkwy.
Dublin, OH USA 43017-3305
+1 614 791-1600

Visit FORESIGHT Corp. at http://www.foresightcorp.com/
"Commerce for a New World"

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