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Subject: What's the right forum for developing XMl Messaging

To Members of the IETF Trade Working Group ...

The purpose of this email is to solicit opinions from the IETF Trade Working
Group on the "best" forum for developing specifications for "XML Messaging".

Although I have made one submission on this topic to this working group,
interest in developing this type of specification has also arisen within
ebXML which is a joint United Nations/OASIS development.

Clearly it does not make sense for two - probably competing - specifications
to be developed in the same area. Hence this email.

The remainder of this email contains some background information on XML
Messaging and ebXML.

I encourage members of the Trade Working Group to make known their views on
these alternatives development forums.


David Burdett

Advanced Technology, CommerceOne
1600 Riviera Ave, Suite 200, Walnut Creek, CA 94596, USA
Tel: +1 (925) 941 4422 or +1 (650) 623 2888; 
mailto:david.burdett@commerceone.com; Web: http://www.commerceone.com


The following provides:
*	a brief recap on XML Messaging
*	a more detailed explanation of ebXML, and
*	a brief evaluation of some of the advantages and disadvantages, as I
see it, for using either to develop specifications like "XML Messaging"

On 25th January an Internet Draft titled "Requirements for XML Messaging
Version 1.0 Release 00" was published (see

The objective of XML Messaging is to provide "... a generic approach to the
reliable, resilient, secure, tamper resistant, authenticated exchange of XML
or other electronic documents over insecure, unreliable transport

The requirements document suggested the development of a set of related
specifications that met the above requirement within the IETF Trade Working

So far I have received a few emails volunteering to get involved but no
other feedback.

"ebXML" stands for "electronic business XML" and is a joint effort between
the United Nations/CEFACT group and OASIS (more from http://www.ebxml.org/).

The objectives of ebXML are 
*	a worldwide project to standardize XML business specifications
*	develop a technical framework that will enable XML to be utilized in
a consistent manner for the exchange of all electronic business data
*	industry groups currently working on XML specifications have been
invited to participate in the 18-month project
*	inaugural meeting - 15-17 November, in California, 100 + attendees
*	follow up meeting - 31 Jan - 4 Feb in Orlando, Florida 120+

UN/CEFACT stands for the "United Nations Centre for the Facilitation of
Procedures and Practices for Administration, Commerce and Transport" (more
from: http://www.unece.org/cefact/). It is the management body for
"UN/EDIFACT - United Nations Directories for Electronic Data Interchange for
Administration, Commerce and Transport" (more from

The important thing about UN/EDIFACT is that they developed EDI and bring
with them the whole EDI community. The EDI community now wants to move to
XML so that the automation benefits that EDI has brought to large companies
filters down to smaller and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

A number of groups have been set up within ebXML to work on a variety of
different areas (see http://www.ebxml.org/project_teams/project_teams.htm).
One of these is called the Transport Packaging & Routing team (see
http://www.ebxml.org/project_teams/transport.htm). In the workshop last week
the TP&R team defined the scope of its work as follows:
*	provide an envelope and header for routing of message content
*	define template sequences for the exchange of messages
*	provide support for payloads of any type of digital data
*	adopt security protocols that enable:
*	non repudiation of sending of messages and acknowledgements
*	privacy and integrity of communications between parties
*	authentication of senders of messages
*	control over access to services
*	support verifiable audit trails
*	provide mechanisms for reporting on errors or other problems
*	develop a messaging protocol for reliable message delivery
*	definine the information required that describes how to interact
with a service
*	develop a default method of usage that enables bootstrapping of

... and objectives of:
*	to enable any party to carry out integrated eCommerce transactions
with any other party anywhere in the world using their hardware and software
vendor of choice
*	to persuade a wide variety of vendors to implement the approach
*	to not reinvent the wheel - re-use where possible
*	to enable existing "messaging" solutions to "bridge" to the ebXML
*	to scale from SMEs to large companies
*	to scale from low power to high end solutions

Membership of the working group is completely open and there are no joining
fees - just like the IETF. The specifications of the working group, like all
other ebXML deliverables, will completely freely available with no
restrictions (also just like the IETF) and will be published under a "United
Nations" banner.

The method of working of the group is a mixture of email lists (see:
http://www.ebxml.org/participate.htm), weekly telephone calls and regular
meetings 3-6 times a year - this is more intensive than the IETF.

Finally, perhaps the most imporant objective of the ebXML Transport, Routing
and Packaging work group is to try and get existing related initiatives in
the messaging area to converge. Although no firm commitments have yet been
made, organizations as diverse as IBM, EDIINT and RosettaNet have
participated actively in the meetings and email lists.

Some of the advantages and disadvantages that I see are as follows:
*	ebXML has already made some good progress in developing it's ideas
since it was formed and has a method of working that should result in the
faster development of specifications - i.e. it has momentum
*	ebXML's focus is business-to-business eCommerce -  which is probably
narrower than the general internet focus of the IETF
*	ebXML, although sponsored by the United Nations, is not an
established standards setting authority such as the IETF
*	both are equally open and the results produced by either should be
equally freely available for use.

In my view it does not make sense for both the IETF Trade Working Group and
the ebXML initiatives to continue.

Views and opinions of the members of this group will be welcomed.

David Burdett

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