The current buzz-word today is XML. XML is short for Extensible Markup Language and is a set of rules defining how a document or a message should be formatted. XML is not the next-generation-HTML, it's a language that can describe anything, a HTML web page, a hotel booking request, a phone book, anything! This is how a very simple XML document look like:
<MESSAGE>This is the message</MESSAGE>
XML is used as the 'glue' between different systems and applications. It is used as an EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) language, i.e. instead of sending UN/EDIFACT or ANSI X.12 messages, you send an XML file.
As mentioned above, XML can be used for any data. There are XML formats for the insurance industry, for real estate etc. Below are some XML standards used in supply chain management.
ebXML is a set of specifications that together enable a modular electronic business framework. The vision of ebXML is to enable a global electronic marketplace where enterprises of any size and in any geographical location can meet and conduct business with each other through the exchange of XML based messages. ebXML is a joint initiative of the United Nations (UN/CEFACT) and OASIS, developed with global participation for global usage.
The standard defines all aspects of message interchange, from definitions of business processes to the nitty-gritty part of specifying extactly how the messages should be sent. Whats interesting is that you do not need to implement all of the ebXml requirements, you can start out with some of the parts. Another good feature is that there is a shared repository for company profiles, business process models and related message structures; it is a kind of Yellow Pages for EDI capable businesses.
Because it is (partly) developed by the United Nations, it is expected that ebXml will replace UN/EDIFACT in the future.
Web site at http://www.ebxml.org
RosettaNet is an organisation which provides method and processes for conducting e-business. The organisation is a consortium of more than 400 of the world's leading Electronic Components (EC), Information Technology (IT) and Semiconductor Manufacturing (SM) companies. The RosettaNet process is much more than deciding the format of the EDI messages, it defines the full process of e-commerce. There are:
Partner Interface Processes (PIPs) describes the business process, e.g. PIP 4C1 - Distribute Inventory Report describes what happens when a supplier wants to tell a buyer how many items are on stock. They also describe the XML format of the message relevant to the PIP.
Dictionaries that describes what properties, e.g. the RosettaNet EC Technical Dictionary says that an electrical component can have a property called 'Part Number' consisting of 0-255 characters
RosettaNet Implementation Framework describes in technical detail how the messages are exchanged, in what format etc. These specifications describes the XML format of the larger components in the messages, e.g. The format of the message delivery header.
Products and Partner Codes. These say that products are identified by their UCC/EAN code and that partners (organisations) are identified with their Data Universal Numbering System (D-U-N-S) number. These numbers are assigned and maintained by Dun and Bradstreet (D&B).
RosettaNet has developed process definitions targeted solely for business-to-business supply chain integration. Web site at www.RosettaNet.org
The Open Applications Group publishes a large number of XML standards to be used in various eBusiness and Application Integration projects. The standard is similar to RosettaNet and ebXml, but more generally applicable. Where RosettaNet is aimed more
Web site at http://www.openapplications.org/
The STEPml specification addresses the requirements to identify and classify or categorize products, components, assemblies (ignoring their structure) and/or parts. Identification and classification are concepts assigned to a product by a particular organization.
The following are within the scope of this specification:
identifying products using a string value that is unique within the organization that assigned the value for a type of product;
representing the name of a product;
representing an optional description of a product;
representing the categorization of the product;
the specification of a data structure to identify an organization;
the specification of a data structure to identify a person;
the specification of a data structure to relate a person to an organization;
the specification of a data structure to represent an address;
an organization may have a related address;
a person in an organization may have a related address;
all identified people must be related to organizations;
the assignment of an organization to product data;
the assignment of a person in an organization to product data;
specifying a data structure to record the names of categories for products;
specifying a data structure to optionally record the description or definition of a product category;
specifying a data structure to relate product categories in a hierarchical manner;
optionally recording what organisation or person in organisation defines a category for a product.
Web site at www.stepml.org