Archive for March, 2008|Monthly archive page

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

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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).

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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

Nearly half of UK companies go for SOA

The SOA readiness survey of 180 UK organisations by Birmingham-based systems integrator Griffiths Waite showed that of the 47% of respondents pursuing SOA, 20% had already implemented at least one SOA project.And of that 20%, almost half (49%) said their main reason for adopting SOA was to achieve IT flexibility and 14% said it would enable them to get the most out of their IT investments by providing industry standards for accessing functionality and resources.

Hugh Griffiths, director of Griffiths Waite, said, “This shows UK companies are starting to put money behind SOA, which represents a definite shift away from technical discussions towards mainstream implementation.”

Griffiths said another reason for the shift was an increase in the number and maturity of standards, such as the Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) for specifying business process behaviour for web services.

Read the complete article in Computer Weekly

Chaharshanbe Suri

Chahārshanbe-Sūri is the ancient Iranian festival dating at least back to 1700 BCE of the early Zoroastrian era. The festival of fire is a prelude to the ancient Norouz (Persian New year) festival, which marks the arrival of spring and revival of nature. Chahrshanbeh Suri, is celebrated the last Tuesday night of the year, which would be on 18 March this year. The word Chahar Shanbeh means Wednesday and Suri is red. The bon fires are lit at the sunset and the idea is to not let the sun set. Bon fires are lit to keep the sun alive till early hours of the morning. The celebration usually starts in the evening. On this occasion people make bon-fires on the streets and jump over them. The young shoot lots of fireworks before and during Chaharshanbe Suri.

The tradition includes people going into the streets and alleys to make fires, and jump over them while singing and dancing. There is no religious significance attached to Chahar Shanbeh Suri and it serves as a cultural festival for all Iranian Jews, Muslems, Armenians, Turks and Zoroastrians alike. Indeed this celebration, in particular the significant role of fire, is likely to hail from Zoroastrianism. In addition another tradition of this day is to make a special Ajeel ‘Mixed nuts and berries’. People wear disquise and chadors and go door to door knocking on doors. Receiving of the Ajeel is customary, as is receiving of a bucket of water.

Here are some pictures of Charshanbe Suri in Tehran.

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BPMN to BPEL: going to battle with one hand tied?

William Vambenepe writes, “I have been looking at business process modeling and I am a bit puzzled about the connections between the different goals (strategy support, process documentation, automated execution….), audiences (LOB, business analysts, developers…) and tools (process editor, registry, simulation bench, IDE…). I see how it would be nice for all these to play well together. What I don’t quite see is exactly how the current tools achieve that.

One example is the goal of improving communications between business analysts and developers by allowing analysts to capture as much of the intended process as possible in a way that can be easily consumed by developers. That is a worthy goal and it should be eventually achievable (though maybe in a reformulated form) based on industry trends (who would have thought that one day business people would use their own computers to retrieve business data rather than having an operator print documents for them). But it is still a very difficult goal, for which many inherent barriers (in terms of shared vocabulary, skills and mindset) must be overcome. My concern is that the current approaches add many artificial barriers to those intrinsic to the problem.

One source of such artificial barriers is that incompatible business process description languages come into play. One common example is the use of BPMN for analyst-level modeling followed by a translation to BPEL for development tasks. I ran into an example of an incompatibility between the two very early in my experimentations with BPMN, in the form of the “inclusive OR” (the diamond with a circle inside in BPMN).

Read the complete article by William Vambenepe.

Surveys Reflect on “The State of BPM in 2008”

In the past couple of weeks, two major reports on “The State of BPM in 2008” were published. The first one was based on a survey filled by 274 respondents and published by BPTrends.com. The second one was based on analyst reports, articles and a survey of customers and was published by BEA…BPTrends reports that a wide variety of process standards are being used by the respondents. BPMN shows the strongest momentum with 41% (from 22% in 2006) and BPEL showing a modest progression with 26% (from 23% in 2006). XPDL (6%) and the OMG Process Metamodel (7%) are far behind while UML (30%) and CMM/CMMI (28%) remain fairly stable.See the complete article by Jean-Jacques Dubray in InfoQ.

OASIS issues Call for Participation in new ebCore Technical Committee

All interested parties are invited to participate in the new OASIS ebXML Core (ebCore)  Technical Committee.

This group will manage clarifications, modifications, and enhancements for ebXML specifications that are completed or transitioned to it.

The ebCore TC may also produce new conformance profiles and adjunct documents complementing existing specifications.

It will explore synergies with UN/CEFACT, WS-* specifications and SOA best practices.

TC proposers include representatives of Axway, Boeing, Fujitsu, and others.

A TC chair or two co-chairs will be elected at the first meeting, which will be held by teleconference on 4 April. 

Read the complete Call for Participation from OASIS.