Jon Bosak informed me this morning that UBL 2.0 has been approved as an OASIS standard. UBL, or Universal Business Language, is designed to provide a consist way for businesses to share common documents using XML; that is, documents like invoices, purchase orders, catalog updates, transportation manifests, things like that. UBL is an alternative to business groups creating ad-hoc schemas for documents that are truly universal to all businesses. Why reinvent the wheel — or the billing form?
While UBL 1.0 made a good start, and laid some fundamental groundwork, the scope of its work was pretty limited to order processing. Version 2.0 adds 23 new document types of the previous version of the XML spec. Those include catalog requests and updates; forwarding instructions, packing lists, bills of ladings and waybills; credit and debit notes, freight invoices, payment reminders; account statements and remittance advice notes.
Sexy? Heck no. But efforts like UBL (you can download the spec here) are essential to helping businesses conduct business online, and can significantly help reduce software development time. There’s also a SOA perspective here: the UBL document and schemas can be used both internally and externally, and can serve as the foundation for a company’s internal workings as well.