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 human?" 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 FORESIGHT Corp. 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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