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Subject: FW: WebServices.Org - The Web Services Industry Portal - New XML e-business model s

Title: FW: WebServices.Org - The Web Services Industry Portal - New XML e-business model s

David, et al:

Just curious....what's your response to Bob's summary of CICA.......


 -----Original Message-----
From:   Miller, Robert (GXS) 
Sent:   Tuesday, August 12, 2003 3:16 PM
Subject:        RE: WebServices.Org - The Web Services Industry Portal - New XML e-business model s


CICA enhances semantic understanding currently not well addressed in the evolving UN/CEFACT specifications related to document assembly.  I know UN/CEFACT will review this work, but I don't know if they will integratet its principles into theri ongoing work effort.  Articles such as this one certainly improve the chances UN/CEFACT will pay serious attention to this work.

Would that it did all that the article suggests it does, but much of the article speaks of a detailed level of semantic knowledge which neither X12 nor DISA as addressed from a data collection and storage viewpoint.  That's not to say these bodies won't eventually reach that level of sophistication.  There is an effort underway in OASIS, for example, to apply ontologic methodology to the data units that make up a business transaction, and so provide a means to capture detailed semantic information in an systematic manner, and to organize the information in a manner that aids both document and application implementation.  Think of the Dewey Decimal system for organizing library books, and of encyclopedias for providing an organized set of information on a given subject.

As I previously mentioned in an earlier Email, there is an ongoing controversy both inside and outside the X12 body about the appropriateness of the X12 effort, given the ongoing work in UN/CEFACT.  I am quite convinced that the end result of the X12 effort will not be a separate, UN/CEFACT incompatible X12 standard for XML messages.  Rather, I believe that X12 will achieve its need to more closely control semantic content of messages witin the evolving UN/CEFACT architecture, and will in time adopt that architecture as the standard.    

Some of the work X12 is currently undertaking, especially as relates to XML syntax to represent messages designed using the new architectural principles, seems unlikely to my mind of gaining significant support.  Of course, syntax is where the rubber meets the road, and understandably, businesses don't want to pay for multiple sets of tires.

As you well know, some companies already use XML to exchange business data, though none of these exchanges could be considered standard conformant, since such standards have yet to be defined.  I would expect where such usage is among larger groups that these groups will find opportunities to achieve conformance with international standards. 

I observe that, as difficult as it is to define data mapping into and out of  in-house operations within the traditional EDI syntax may be, the introduction of XML syntax will, espcially in the short term, make matters worse.   For example, the temptation to 'extend' common transactions to suit specific company needs will not face the reality of a standard EDI transaction set that doesn't support such an extension.  It is 'easier' to mutually agree to extend a schema to meet  perceived (or real) business needs than to go through a formal standards-based process to meet that need.  Over time the cumulative effect of such informal extensions could lead to a return of chos to eBusiness transactions.

Befroe closing, I would like to observe that many existing X12 and UN/CEFACT transaction sets are already well designed, are meeting business needs, adn are more cost efective to produce and transmit than would be any XML replacement.  I therefore expect traditonal EDI volume will continue to increase over the next several years.  Whether the volume transported via VANs will increase or decrease, and what value added services will rise or fall in improtance I am unable to predict with any certainty. I do expect that their will arise within the EDI Translation umbrella a need to perform endpoint conversions of EDI formatted data into and out of XML formatted data (or at least into and out of  XML interpretor interface format) used to exchange data with XML-savvy application programs (e.g., with XSLT, XFORMS, etc.).  It would be impractical to reproduce these versatile tools to interface directly with EDI syntax, since they are generic XML-based tools  designed to interoperate with modern, highly complex, personal computer operating environments.


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