New W3C SPARQL Working Group Charter

The W3C SPARQL Working Group (formerly known as RDF Data Access Working Group) has now been re-chartered. The WG is chartered through July 31, 2010, with Lee Feigenbaum and Axel Polleres as Co-Chairs. SPARQL (pronounced “sparkle”) is an RDF query language with a recursive acronym that stands for SPARQL Protocol and RDF Query Language. It is standardized by the W3C’s RDF Data Access Working Group (DAWG) and is considered a component of the semantic web. From the published charter: “SPARQL has become very widely implemented and used since then (and, in fact, even before the specification achieved a W3C Recommendation status). The RDF Data Access Working Group has published three SPARQL recommendations (Query Language, Protocol, and Results Format) in January 2008. Usage and implementation of SPARQL have revealed requirements for extensions to the query langauge that are needed by applications. Most of these were already known and recorded when developing the current Recommendation, but there was not enough implementation and and usage experience at the time for standardization.  Current implementation experience and feedback from the user community makes it now feasible to handle some of those issues in a satisfactory manner. The mission of the SPARQL Working Group, part of the Semantic Web Activity, is to produce a W3C Recommendation that extends SPARQL. The extension is a small set of additional feature that (1) have been identified by the users as badly needed for applications; (2) have been identified by SPARQL implementers as reasonable and feasible extension to current implementations. Note that a strict backward compatibility with exisiting SPARQL design should be mantained, and currently no radical redefinition of the SPARQL language is envisaged. Proposed deliverables include the following “SPARQL Use Cases and Requirements, Version 2”, with a list of extension categories to be added to the January 2008 version of SPARQL. The document should also prioritize the items, with the possibility to drop some items from the final Recommendation in case the Working Group runs out of time. This document is not expected to be on a Recommendation track. “SPARQL Query Language for RDF” (new version, Recommendation) “SPARQL Protocol for RDF” (new version, Recommendation) “SPARQL Query Results XML Format” (new version, Recommendation) “Serializing SPARQL Query Results in JSON” (new version, Working Group Note).

See the W3C SPARQL WG Charter: 
http://www.w3.org/2009/01/sparql-charter.html

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Royal Bank of Scotland selects Accountis for e-invoicing

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is implementing technology from Fundtech-subsidiary Accountis to provide bank-branded electronic invoicing services to its corporate customers.

The Accountis platform uses UBL standards for its documents.

RBS has signed a multi-year contract for Accountis’s electronic invoice presentment and payment (EIPP) technology which it will use to provide VAT-compliant e-invoicing services to corporate customers in the UK.

The application provides detailed status information – such as proof of delivery, acceptance, query and approval status – for all documents involved in a business transaction, from purchase order to invoices. The service also provides real time dispute management.

Accountis says RBS customers that implement the service will be able replace slow and costly paper-based processes with a faster and more environmentally-friendly technology. It also facilitates the bank provision of invoice-based financing services.

“For our customers we see e-invoicing as a fast-track to saving time and money,” says Ian Watkinson, head of e-invoicing, RBS. “In addition to eliminating paper and automating manual processes, users of the service will quickly benefit from real-time document management, faster settlements and better working capital optimisation.”

Watkinson says e-invoicing is a “strategic addition” to the bank’s product portfolio.

“By offering additional transaction services such as e-invoice delivery, we will gain greater visibility of our customer’s end-to-end, financial supply chain transactions. This will help us to improve our understanding of their business and strengthen our long-term relationship,” he adds.

ESB Interoperability Standards

Thousands of Enterprises worldwide have adopted the principles of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). SOA provides an architectural approach that brings the flexibility and agility required by today’s global business environment. An Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is a vital ingredient of SOA that facilitates the interaction of business services by mediating the message exchanges between them.

ESB infrastructure products are available from a number of software vendors, but there is a lack of consistency between them when it comes to standards support. This has led a number of ESB customers to ask for an industry-wide agreed list of standards supported by an ESB. This Whitepaper documents the essential standards requirements for an ESB, using a scenario-based approach.

ESBs extend the capabilities of SOA and advance the realization of SOA. Mediations can be employed to facilitate interactions between mismatched service requesters and providers. The ESB also provides a common model for accessing, managing and administering system-wide services.

Today’s fast-paced business world demands the ability to change and adapt rapidly. With an Enterprise Service Bus, you can connect your business applications and processes quickly and easily as you respond to business challenges and opportunities when they arise.

By adopting a standards-based approach leveraging Web services a customer has the assurance of the flexibility and the interoperability that such a strategy provides.

Read the full Whitepaper by Thomas Freund and Peter Niblett here: http://download.boulder.ibm.com/ibmdl/pub/software/dw/specs/ws-esb-interop/ESB_Interop_Standards_WP_060208.pdf

The Global Justice Reference Architecture (JRA) ebXML Messaging Service Interaction Profile Version 1.0

The purpose of this document is to establish a SERVICE INTERACTION PROFILE (SIP) based on the ebXML family of technology standards.

A Service Interaction Profile is a concept identified in the Global Justice Reference Architecture ([JRA2]). This concept defines an approach to meeting the basic requirements necessary for interaction between SERVICE CONSUMERS and SERVICES. The approach utilizes a cohesive or natural grouping of technologies, standards, or techniques in meeting those basic interaction requirements. A profile establishes a basis for interoperability between service consumer systems and services that agree to utilize that profile for interaction. A Service Interaction Profile guides the definition of SERVICE INTERFACES.

In an SOA environment, every service interface shared between two or more information systems should conform to exactly one Service Interaction Profile. Service consumers who interact with an interface should likewise conform to that interface’s profile. The profile discussed in this document is based on the ebXML family of technology standards, defined as follows:

  • OASIS ebXML Messaging Services, Version 3.0: Part 1, Core Features, 2007 [ebMS3]
  • OASIS ebXML ―Conformance Profiles Gateway RX V3 or RX V2/3 for e-Business and e-Government applications [ebMS3-PROFILES]
  • OASIS ebXML Business Process Specification Schema v2.0.4 [ebBP]
  • OASIS ebXML Collaboration-Protocol Profile and Agreement Specification Version 2.0 [ebCPPA v2]
  • The Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I) Basic Profile, Version 1.1, dated April 10, 2006 (noted in this document as [WS-I BP]), ebXML Messaging Services v3 is conformant with Section 3 MESSAGES and Section 6 SECURITY and all standards that those sections reference. Section 4 of WS-I Basic Profile does NOT APPLY to ebXML. ebXML does not specify WSDL for service descriptions and service bindings.
  • The WS-I Attachments Profile ([WS-I AP]), Version 1.0, and all standards that it references
  • The WS-I Basic Security Profile Version 1.0 (dated March 30, 2007, 37 noted in this document as [WS-I BSP]), all current Token Profiles, and all standards that they reference.

For more information please visit: http://it.ojp.gov/topic.jsp?topic_id=242

Make use of WS-I resources to test for Web service interoperability

The Web services technology has promised us to provide a high level of interoperability between software components. But what does this mean in practice?

In theory Web services are especially designed to offer “reusable” features that are discovered and bound at runtime using technical “loose coupling.” The Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) has been formed expressly to help speed the creation and adoption of integrated, interoperable business applications based on open source. The OSA recommends that each vendor or project lead should carefully think about which functions in their to need to be triggered by other applications, and ensure that they are exposed in a loosely coupled way so customers and integrators can take care of implementing the process. These functions should be exposed as a service and should be implementation language neutral, so for example a PHP application can invoke a feature in a Java application.

Having in mind that Web services are used by consumers unknown at design-time, and looking at the “Publish-Discover-Invoke-Paradigm” based on standards it will become evident that Web services are fundamentally about “interoperability”. In reality, however, the “standard” protocols are not standard enough to ensure automatic interoperability. Most of the risks stem from subtle variants in implementing a same standard or some borderline option of it (“corner cases”), and from different approaches in integrating several of these standards in the same implementation. Other problems rely on the different programming language implementations of data types like “Date”, “Floating Point” or “BigDecimal”, e.g. when looking at Java & J2EE vs. Microsoft .Net with C++ or C#.

There are many definitions in the industry and academic research that tell us how to interpret the term “interoperability” for Web services. In Microsoft’s “Pattern & practices for building interoperable Web services” book we can find a definition that has been adapted by most of the tool providers in this area:

“An interoperable Web service is one that works across platforms, applications, and languages as well as with Web services from other vendors.”

However, we saw above that interoperability needs consensus, a clear understanding of requirements, and adherence to specifications. In response to these needs, the Web Service Interoperability Organisation WS-I was founded.

WS-I is an open industry organization “chartered to establish Best Practices for Web services interoperability, for selected groups of Web services standards, across platforms, operating systems and programming languages”. The organization is a consortium of Web services companies to provide guidance, recommended practices, and supporting resources for developing interoperable Web services in the SOA world…

To read the full article by Klaus Berg please visit:
http://www.javaworld.com/community/?q=node/828

European eProcurement Capabilities Survey

The eProcurement Forum, the DG Internal Market and Services and IDABC e-Invoicing and e-Ordering project of the European Commission and the CEN Workshop on Business Interoperability Interfaces for Public Procurement are kindly inviting you to complete an eProcurement online questionnaire.
The objective of this survey is to gather information about existing eProcurement systems and supporting tools that can help fulfil the vision of seamless, standards-based electronic public procurement across Europe as committed in the i2010 eGovernment Action Plan. With this aim we are inviting you to provide us with some information about the capabilities of your organisation and your initiatives on this domain, including the usage or development of IT applications.

For more information visit:
http://www.epractice.eu/info/82/6

You can access the survey by connecting to the IPM Tool at:
http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch?form=eProcurementSurvey

Information R/evolution

An overview of UBL

Universal Business Language (UBL) is a library of standard electronic XML business documents such as purchase orders and invoices. UBL was developed by an OASIS Technical Committee with participation from a variety of industry data standards organizations. UBL is designed to plug directly into existing business, legal, auditing, and records management practices. UBL version 2.0 was approved as an OASIS Committee Specification in October 2006 and has been publicly released.

History of UBL 2.0 

UBL 2.0 is quite mature having its roots in the EDI standards, which first appeared in the 1960s. The ANSI institute developed the X12 EDI standard in 1979; widely used in the US and at about the same time the EDIFACT standard was introduced by UN/ECE (United Nations Economic Commission). EDIFACT became an ISO standard in 1987.

The predecessors of UBL as XML standards were the CBL and xCBL standards, the latter derived from EDIFACT and X12. UBL itself is created from the ebXML Core Component library, also derived from EDI and created by OASIS and standardized as ISO 15000-5 in September 2005

UBL 2.0 is the 6th generation XML standard:

  • G1 (1Q 1998): CBL 1.0 (VEO/NIST)
  • G2 (2Q 1999): CBL 2.0 (Commerce One)
  • G3 (4Q 2000): xCBL 3.0 (Commerce One og SAP)
  • G4 (1Q 2003): UBL 0.7 (OASIS)
  • G5 (4Q 2004): UBL 1.0 (OASIS)
  • G6 (1Q 2007): UBL 2.0 (OASIS)

UBL 2.0 was ratified as an OASIS standard in December 2007. According to plans UBL 2.0 will become a UN/CEFACT specification soon and will later become a UN/CEFACT standard. UN/CEFACT will take over development of UBL 2.0.

UBL 2.0 traces its origins back to the EDI standards and other derived XML standards. In total there are 31 documents covering business needs in the phases of presale, ordering, delivery, invoicing and payment.

Overview of UBL 2.0 Documents

The UBL 2.0 Standard includes 31 documents in total, roughly grouped here below:

  • Presale: Request for quotation, Quotation, Catalog request, Catalog, Catalog deletion, Catalog item update, Catalog pricing update.
  • Ordering: Order, Order response, Simple order response, Order cancellation, Order change.
  • Delivery: Bill of lading, Certificate of origin, Forwarding instructions, Packing list, Transportation status, Way bill, Receipt advice, Despatch advice
  • Invoicing: Reminder, Invoice, Self billed invoice, Credit note, Self billed credit note, Debit note, Self billed debit note, Statement
  • Payment: Remittance advice
  • Other: Application response, Attached document

Sources: http://www.unimaze.com and Wikipedia

Happy Nowruz

Nowrūz is the traditional Persian / Iranian new year holiday. Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the Iranian year as well as the beginning of the Bahá’í year. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical vernal equinox (start of spring in northern hemisphere), which usually occurs on the March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed.

As well as being a Zoroastrian holiday, it is also a holy day for adherents of Sufism as well as Bahá’í Faith. In Iran it is also referred to as an Eid festival, although it is not an Islamic feast.

The term Norooz first appeared in Persian records in the second century AD, but it was also an important day during the time of the Achaemenids (c. 648-330 BC), where kings from different nations under the Persian empire used to bring gifts to the emperor of Persia on Nowruz.

Haft Sîn or the seven ‘S’s is a major tradition of Nowruz. The haft sin table includes seven items specificly starting with the letter S or Sîn (س in the Persian alphabet). The items symbolically correspond to seven creations and holy immortals protecting them. 

The Haft Sīn items are:

  • sabzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth
  • samanu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing affluence
  • senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing love
  • sīr – garlic – symbolizing medicine
  • sīb – apples – symbolizing beauty and health
  • somaq – sumac berries – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
  • serkeh – vinegar – symbolizing age and patience

Other items on the table may include:

  • traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi
  • dried nuts, berries and raisins (Aajeel)
  • lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
  • a mirror
  • decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)
  • a bowl with goldfish (life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
  • a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)

Here is a picture of my Haft Sin for Nowruz 1387 (20 March 2008).

7-sin-87.jpg

OASIS to Host Conference on Building Composable SOA Business Applications

“Composability within SOA” will be the focus of Open Standards 2008, the fifth annual symposium hosted by OASIS, the international, not-for-profit consortium. The event, which will be held in Santa Clara, California, 28 April — 1 May, will examine the critical issues faced when architecting service-oriented applications and the benefits being reaped by real-world implementations that take advantage of Web services transactions. Presentations on the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL), Service Component Architecture (SCA), Service Data Objects (SDO), WS-Transaction, and related standards will be featured.

Support for Open Standards 2008

– BEA Systems 
– Rogue Wave
– SAP 
– Software AG
– Sun Microsystems

For more information:
http://events.oasis-open.org/home/symposium/2008

Read the complete announcement from OASIS here:
http://www.oasis-open.org/news/oasis-news-2008-03-17.php