Technology – Global language adopted.

A new communications standard has been agreed that will make it easier for companies’ e-business applications to work together.

The United Nations and technology consortium Oasis have completed an 18-month project to define electronic business XML (ebXML), a standard method to exchange data, conduct trading and define business processes across the internet.

More than 100 IT companies, including IBM, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems and SAP, are members of Oasis, as well as major users including Boeing, Reuters and Visa International.

Other groups defining such as the 400-strong RosettaNet consortium, have thrown their weight behind the standard.

Patrick Gannon, chairman of the Oasis board, hopes the standard will be widely adopted. ‘We expect the rate of deployment to accelerate quickly,’ he said.

XML is now the most widely used language for exchanging data over the internet, but is not yet the promised panacea for e-business integration.

EbXML provides guidelines on how companies will use the XML language in a common way. Without such an agreement, different applications could use XML, but still be unable to communicate.

Different industry sectors can use ebXML to define so-called ‘XML vocabularies’ to describe data specific to their needs. For example, travel companies can agree how to structure flight and destination information that conforms to ebXML.

– Also published in Computing.

Related reading