Ebusiness leaders have joined with international organisations including the United Nations to try to define standards for international ecommerce.
The global project focuses on XML, the mark up language that enables inclusion of extensive supply chain information within electronic documents. The global initiative formed this week, called ebXML, will attempt to standardise the number of different XML specifications.
Sun Microsystems, Commerce One, Oracle, Visa and General Motors were among 83 companies that met this week for the second time to discuss the ebXML initiative. The project was initiated by the United Nations body for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/Cefact) and the Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (Oasis). It also includes standards organisations from 14 countries, including the UK, Canada, France, Germany and Japan.
Bob Sutor, an Oasis board member and vice chairman of the ebXML project, said: "Primarily, what we're trying to get done is interoperability, trying to build an overall framework that anyone can plug into."
The aim is to create a single global, cross industry XML framework that people can use for exchanging all ebusiness data in a consistent fashion. Another goal is to encourage the continued development of vertical XML standards.
David Webber, North American chairman of the XML/EDI Group, said: "ebXML may very well prove to be a major event of the new millennium, revolutionising how business transactions are tracked, having a worldwide impact, removing paper from the process and empowering people to create whole new work models."
The ebXML group intends to develop specifications to deal with ebXML requirements and to define a conceptual architecture, a message structure, headers and core components. It hopes to submit them for approval at the next meeting, which is due to be held in Brussels in May.
The first ebXML technical specifications have already been released and are available on the ebXML website. The document defines ebXML and specific technical infrastructure requirements.
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