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UBL: The Universal Business Language. Jon Bosak, Sun Microsystems Chair, OASIS UBL Technical Committee Web Services Edge East 2002 New York City 25 June 2002. Goals for Business Services. Web-enable existing fax- and paper-based business practices

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Ubl the universal business language

UBL: The Universal Business Language

Jon Bosak, Sun Microsystems

Chair, OASIS UBL Technical Committee

Web Services Edge East 2002

New York City

25 June 2002

Goals for business services

Goals for Business Services

  • Web-enable existing fax- and paper-based business practices

  • Allow businesses to upgrade at their own pace

  • Preserve the existing investment in EDI

  • Integrate small and medium-size businesses into existing EDI-based supply chains

The standardization of XML business documents is the easiest way to accomplish these goals.

The universal business language

The Universal Business Language

  • Defines a library of standard electronic business documents

  • Plugs directly into existing traditional business practices

  • Eliminates re-keying of data in existing fax-based supply chains

  • Fills the “payload” slot in B2B frameworks such as the UN/OASIS ebXML initiative (http://ebxml.org)

Ubl and ebxml

UBL and ebXML

Why ubl


  • UBL fulfills the promise of XML for business by defining a standard cross-industry vocabulary

  • UBL plus ebXML enables the next generation of EDI

    • Cheaper, easier, Internet-ready

    • Extends benefits of EDI to small businesses

    • Fits existing legal and trade concepts

    • Allows re-use of data (analysis, reporting)

  • UBL can provide the XML payload for a wide variety of other web-based business frameworks

Ubl as an interchange format


Mfr A


Mfr B


Mfr C




A’s industry


B’s industry


C’s industry


UBL as an Interchange Format

Ubl deliverables

UBL Deliverables

  • Naming and design rules for UBL XML schemas

  • Library of standard XML business information entities (BIEs)

  • Set of standard XML business documents (purchase order, invoice, shipping notice, price catalog, etc.)

  • Context methodology to make the standard documents interoperate across industries

  • Timeline:

    • NDR, BIE library, and basic documents: 2002

    • Context methodology: 2003

Basic ubl documents

Basic UBL Documents

  • Procurement

    • Purchase Order, P.O. Response, P.O. Change

  • Materials management

    • Advance Ship Notice, Planning Schedule, Goods Receipt

  • Payment

    • Commercial Invoice, Remittance Advice

  • Transport/logistics

    • Consignment Status Request, Consignment Status Report, Bill of Lading

  • Catalogs

    • Price Catalog, Product Catalog

  • Statistical reports

    • Accounting report

Ubl inputs

UBL Inputs

UBL is a highly pragmatic effort that builds on many years of EDI and XML standards work.

  • xCBL 3.0 (a large existing XML business library unencumbered by intellectual property claims)

  • ISO 11179 naming rules

  • ebXML Context Methodology and Core Components Technical Specification

  • W3C XML and XDR Recommendations

Some ubl participants



Commerce One

Danish Bankers Association

France Telecom

General Electric

Government of Hong Kong

Government of Korea





Northrop Grumman





Sterling Commerce

Sun Microsystems

U.K. Cabinet Office

United Parcel Service

U.S. General Services Administration

U.S. Navy

Visa International

Some UBL Participants



  • Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards

  • Non-profit

  • Open, publicly visible process

  • Open membership

  • http://oasis-open.org

  • http://xml.org

International standardization

International Standardization

  • OASIS is a Class A Liaison to ISO TC 154, the international standards body for electronic commerce syntax

  • OASIS is a member of the Management Group for the ISO IEC ITU UN/CEFACT Memo of Understanding on Electronic Commerce Standards

  • UBL is on the continuing agenda of the ISO IEC ITU UN/CEFACT MoU/MG

  • UBL is intended to become a de jure standard for global electronic commerce

Oasis ubl subcommittees

Technical SCs

Naming and Design Rules*

Context Methodology*

Tools and Techniques

Content SCs

Library Content*

(future domain-specific SCs)

OASIS UBL Subcommittees

  • Administrative SCs

    • Marketing

    • Administration

    • Liaison

    • SC Chairs

    • * These SCs have their own web portals in addition to the main UBL TC portal

Ubl naming and design rules subcommittee

UBL Naming and Design Rules Subcommittee

  • Chair: Eve Maler <[email protected]>

  • Vice Chair and Editor: Mark Crawford <[email protected]>

  • Archive: http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/ubl-ndrsc

  • Web page: http://oasis-open.org/committees/ubl/ndrsc/

Ndr sc progress report

NDR SC Progress Report

  • Canonical schema language: XSD

  • Canonical naming rules: ebXML (ISO 11179)

  • Position papers

    • Modularity

    • Namespaces

    • Versioning

    • Type Derivation

    • Elements vs. Attributes

    • Code Lists

  • Position drafts are available for review (see http://oasis-open.org/committees/ubl/ndrsc/ )

Ubl library content subcommittee

UBL Library Content Subcommittee

  • Chair: Tim McGrath <[email protected]>

  • Vice Chair: Marion Royal <[email protected]>

  • Archive: http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/ubl-lcsc

  • Web page: http://oasis-open.org/committees/ubl/lcsc/

Lc sc progress report

LC SC Progress Report

  • UBL will not be backward-compatible with xCBL 3.0

  • First schemas for Purchase Order and associated library BIEs are available for review (see http://oasis-open.org/committees/ubl/lcsc/ )

  • Send comments to ubl-comment list

Ubl context methodology subcommittee

UBL Context Methodology Subcommittee

  • Chair: Matthew Gertner <[email protected]>

  • Editor: Eduardo Gutentag <[email protected]>

  • Archive: http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/ubl-cmsc

  • Web page: http://oasis-open.org/committees/ubl/cmsc/

Context methodology

Context Methodology

  • Defines how document formats can be extended based on specific trading partner characteristics

  • Takes ebXML context rules as starting point

  • Builds on experience with OO extension methodology, but will be

    – More structured

    – More consistent

    – Easier to track

    – Easier to automate

    – Require a lower level of skill

Cm sc progress report

CM SC Progress Report

  • Have reviewed ebXML Methodology and are considering proposed changes

  • Have reviewed existing context drivers and are considering proposed additions

Ubl the universal business language

UBL Differentiators

  • Completely open, public, accountable standards process

  • Nonproprietary and royalty-free

  • Based on UN, OASIS, and W3C specifications

  • Intended for normative status under international law

  • Designed for B2B

  • Intended for exchange of legal documents

  • Human- and machine-readable

  • Compatible with existing EDI systems

Ubl the universal business language

The Value of Joining Forces

  • As a non-profit cross-industry effort, UBL depends on expert domain input to “get it right”

  • We actively solicit industry and standards liaisons

  • Organizations appoint representatives to the UBL Liaison Subcommittee

    • If the organization is not an OASIS member, an individual representative joins at USD 250/year

    • Telcons are held every two weeks

    • Liaisons arrange for specification reviews

Ubl liaisons so far

UBL Liaisons So Far

  • ACORD (insurance industry)

  • EIDX (electronics industry)

  • ARTS (retail sales)

  • RosettaNet (information technology)

  • XBRL (accounting)

  • X12 (EDI)




  • UBL is “the real deal” – actual standard XML business schemas

    • Completes the ebXML stack

    • Combines the experience of XML and business experts

  • UBL is dedicated to vendor-neutral interoperability

    • Open process

    • Unencumbered IP

    • Cross-industry semantic harmonization

  • UBL can enable the “B2B web”

    • HTML + HTTP = web publishing

    • UBL + ebXML = web commerce

For more information

For More Information

  • OASIS UBL TC portal

    • http://oasis-open.org/committees/ubl

    • White papers and SC portals are linked from here

  • UBL public comment and news list archive

    • http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/ubl-comment

    • Subscribe at http://lists.oasis-open.org/ob/adm.pl

  • To join the OASIS UBL Technical Committee, contact the TC chair: [email protected]

Ubl the universal business language


Jon Bosak

[email protected]

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