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Subject: FW: ebXML and Interoperability

I am forwarding this to the list for interested parties.  

-----Original Message-----
From: Robert Worden [mailto:rworden@dial.pipex.com]
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2000 9:18 AM
To: Anders Grangard (E-mail); Lisa M Shreve (E-mail); Scott Nieman
Subject: ebXML and Interoperability

(Scott - we corresponded in February after my article in xml.com)

As interoperability is a core objective of ebXML, I am writing to let you 
know about a development in XML interoperability which could have some 
impact on ebXML's objectives and architecture.

It is now technically possible for a repository to act as a source not only 
of XML language definitions, but also of XSLT transformations between 
languages, generated automatically on demand. This would give a big boost 
to the interoperability of the languages registered there, and would give 
users a guaranteed migration path to new languages.

To do this, the repository needs to (1) build a UML-like semantic model of 
the e-commerce domain (not trivial!), (2) persuade XML language definers 
either to generate their language definitions from such a model (as you 
envisage) or retrospectively to map their languages onto the model, and (3) 
install a copy of our tool XMuLator, which can generate the XSLT 
transformations between languages from this information.

We now know this is feasible, as we have done a proof-of-concept exercise 
on 13 publicly available purchase order message formats. The tool can 
generate complex structural transformations when needed, not just tag 
substitutions. The transform results make sense, and pass stringent 
round-trip tests involving 2, 3 or more languages.

As you will see, this approach fits in well with the ebXML model-driven 
approach and with your UML emphasis. The key challenges in producing good 
transformations are not technical but in the semantic modelling. Therefore 
 some of the roles you have identified in your 'Registry/Repository 
Business Domain' document are highly relevant. The 'Technical Assessment' 
actor who 'identifies semantic overlaps with other specifications' may well 
do this by mapping them onto the same semantic model, thus 
creating/validating exactly the information needed to drive automatic 
transform generation.  The 'Semantic Mapping' specialist is doing a similar 
role from a different viewpoint, and could also be working with the 
mappings which drive transformations.

I enclose a short paper about the transformation technology we have 
developed. If you wish to circulate this note and the paper to your teams, 
please do so.

I can provide further information if required, and would be interested to 
join in your discussions from this viewpoint.

With best wishes

Dr. Robert Worden

Charteris Ltd
6 Kinghorn Street     London EC1A  7HT 

phone: 44 1223 870625          fax:   44 1223 874060 
                 mobile:  44 7970 197968

XMuLator brief.doc

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