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Standards development within the Information Technology sector is harmonized with international standards development. Through the CSA Technical Committee on Information Technology (TCIT), Canadians serve as the SCC Mirror Committee (SMC) on ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information Technology (ISO/IEC JTC1) for the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), the ISO member body for Canada and sponsor of the Canadian National Committee of the IEC. Also, as a member of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Canada participates in the International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee (ITU-T).
For brevity, this Standard will be referred to as CAN/CSA-ISO/IEC 19845 throughout.
At the time of publication, ISO/IEC 19845:2015 is available from ISO and IEC in English only. CSA Group will publish the French version when it becomes available from ISO and IEC.
Since its approval as a W3C recommendation in 1998, XML has been adopted in a number of industries as a framework for the definition of the messages exchanged in electronic commerce. The widespread use of XML has led to the development of multiple industry-specific XML versions of such basic documents as purchase orders, shipping notices, and invoices.
While industry-specific data formats have the advantage of maximal optimization for their business context, the existence of different formats to accomplish the same purpose in different brbusiness domains is attended by a number of significant disadvantages as well.
- Developing and maintaining multiple versions of common business documents like purchase orders and invoices is a major duplication of effort.
- Creating and maintaining multiple adapters to enable trading relationships across domain boundaries is an even greater effort.
- The existence of multiple XML formats makes it much harder to integrate XML business messages with back-office systems.
- The need to support an arbitrary number of XML formats makes tools more expensive and trained workers harder to find.
The OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) is intended to help solve these problems by defining a generic XML interchange format for business documents that can be restricted or extended to meet the requirements of particular industries. Specifically, UBL provides the following:
- A suite of structured business objects and their associated semantics expressed as reusable data components and common business documents.
- A library of XML schemas for reusable data components such as Address, Item, and Payment-the common data elements of everyday business documents.
- A set of XML schemas for common business documents such as Order, Despatch Advice, and Invoice that are constructed from the UBL library components and can be used in generic procurement and transportation contexts.
A standard basis for XML business schemas provides the following advantages:
- Lower cost of integration, both among and within enterprises, through the reuse of common data structures.
- Lower cost of commercial software, because software written to process a given XML tag set is much easier to develop than software that can handle an unlimited number of tag sets.
- An easier learning curve, because users need master just a single library.
- Lower cost of entry and therefore quicker adoption by small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).
- Standardized training, resulting in many skilled workers.
- A universally available pool of system integrators.
- Standardized, inexpensive data input and output tools.
- A standard target for inexpensive off-the-shelf business software.
UBL is designed to provide a universally understood and recognized syntax for legally binding business documents and to operate within a standard business framework such as ISO 15000 (ebXML) to provide a complete, standards-based infrastructure that can extend the benefits of existing EDI systems to businesses of all sizes. UBL is freely available to everyone without legal encumbrance or licensing fees.
UBL schemas are modular, reusable, and extensible in XML-aware ways. As the first standard implementation of ebXML Core Components Technical Specification 2.01, the UBL Library is based on a conceptual model of information components known as Business Information Entities (BIEs). These components are assembled into specific document models such as Order and Invoice. These document models are then transformed in accordance with UBL Naming and Design Rules into W3C XSD schema syntax. This approach facilitates the creation of UBL-based document types beyond those specified in this release.
UBL can also be regarded as a generic Open-edi Configuration in the perspective of the Open-edi Reference Model (ISO/IEC 14662:2010). This is described in more detail in Appendix H, The Open-edi reference model perspective of UBL (Non-Normative).