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Subject: Re: ebXML Requirements Specification Draft

Mike Rawlins has invited us to review the final version of the ebXML
Requirements Specification which will be submitted for approval at the
plenary May 8.  See http://www.ebxml.org/specindex.htm.  Since the
comment period on this version starts May 2, and closes May 8, I guess I
can make some observations:

(1) Front piece says "See acknowledgements" for authors.  There is no
"acknowledgements" section.

(2)  There's no problem statement; i.e., what problem are we attempting
to solve?  What was wrong with EDI, EDIFACT or X12?  Section 1.2.2 -
ebXML Scope - barely touches on one of the purported problems with EDI,
in that SMEs can't or won't participate in EDI, perhaps because of
complexity and expense.

But are we serious that ebXML will "[deliver] specifications that will
be used by all trading partners interested in maximizing XML
interoperability within and across trading partner communities"?  The
emphasis should be on producing a standard which can be incorporated in
shrink-wrapped or packaged solutions, a point not made until section
2.2 - Conducting Electronic Business using ebXML.

Another supposed problem with EDI is that it requires extensive trading
partner negotiation up front.  This isn't mentioned (parenthetically)
until Section 3.4 - Technical Architecture.

(3) Section 2.3 - Globalization says "all ebXML technical specifications
[in English] will be translatable into the other official UN languages-
French and Russian. Translation into languages other than French or
Russian is the responsibility of the intended user..."  This is
superfluous.  Of course, English can be translated into French and
Russian.  But are we making a promise that the UN will do so?  This was
never done within UN/CEFACT for UN/EDIFACT directories or any other
documents, excepting a very few in French.  I'd suggest taking out the
entire clause about the specifications being "translatable," as it only
detracts from the very important points that (a) we're going to work in
English and that (b) the ebXML Repository should support alternate

Again, repeating my note from Saturday, the statement that "in keeping
with the requirements of XML 1.0, all work will shall be compliant with
Unicode and ISO/IEC 10646 for characters, Internet RFC 1766 for language
identification tags, ISO 639 for language name codes, and ISO 3166 for
country name codes" should be clarified or softened.  XML 1.0 itself has
some requirements to use these standards (for well-formed and valid
documents), but the business data contained within may very well depend
on other standards (such as FIPS 10-4, instead of ISO 3166, for
identifying countries).

(4) All references to CEFACT should read "UN/CEFACT".  "insure" should
be "ensure" in Section 3.5 -  Core Components.

(5) Section 2.5.2 - Transport, Routing, & Packaging says the messaging
system is required "to Realize reliable secure sending and receiving of
messages over any network capable of carrying XML."  Since XML is text,
presumably any network can "carry XML."   Since TR&P has settled on MIME
packaging, perhaps some verbiage about "capable of carrying MIME encoded

(6) Section 4 - ebXML Organizational and Procedural Requirements -
should not mention private corporations or their own proprietary
initiatives, such as BizTalk and CommerceOne, unless in an explanatory
non-normative note to explain what we mean by "private initiative."
Private, for-profit corporations, or their respective products and
trademarks, should not be mentioned in the normative text.

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

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

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