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Re: industry standards

From: Andy Dingley <dingbat@codesmiths.com>
Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 12:09:39 +0100
To: xmlschema-dev@w3.org
Message-ID: <p4aihsckkhq9hkq0f4mkkj6vam5lojfqum@4ax.com>
Yven Bernardez <ybernardez@magnus.com.ph> wrote:

>i am a beginner in XML and doing research for a company i work for at the
>moment for standard schemas for industry documents such as PO and Invoices.

>1.  is there such a thing as a standard schema for industry documents in
>XML?

The great thing about XML is that everyone is their own standards
body.  In practice, two trading partners agree to talk to each other,
then they start arguing over the schema to use on the basis of which
is the dominant partner, the earliest to develop product, and has the
most technical savvy in this field. Management idiocy may still
overwhelm them.

Problems then arise when a third partner joins in. At present, unless
there  is one clearly dominant partner in the trading relationship,
then XML development often stalls on this lack of agreed
standardisation. If Ford or GM were to agree ordering systems with
their suppliers, then there would be no problem (you _will_ do it
Ford's way). If a small ecomm startup tries to do the same thing,
they'll find that many suppliers don't want to do any new work for a
new standard, and the rest can't agree on any common standard.

If you do find yourself in the position of setting the standard, then
make the standard clearly defined and defensible, even against the
efforts of future arrivals to the network of trading partners.

Personally I find volunteering my company's, or my client's, efforts
to accept the onerous responsibility of developing the schema to be an
extremely good long-term investment.  Controlling the schema is a
position of huge power, especially in the future, and is well worth
the overhead of designing it and building the initial toolset.


>2.  if there is, then have standards been set yet for these kind of
>documents?  

Many standards have been set. Some are legacy based (the various
XML-EDI projects), some are product based (Ariba, CommerceOne etc.)
and others are vendor based (Visa's comprehensive suite for invoicing)

As yet, there are an awful lot of standards, and no clear grouping
around one dominant set. The ones I've listed are simply some of the
more obvious or better known.

Choosing one is a matter of looking at existing constraints, and
likely future directions. Do you have in-house EDI experience, or EDI
legacy support requirements ?  Are you buying in a vendor's product ?
Are you integrating with ecommerce sites ?  Outside those constraints,
my suggestion would be to look for a usable schema from a recognised
industry leader (like Visa), on the basis that "No one ever got fired
for buying IBM".

OTOH, many big names have proven to be completely incompetent at
developing new XML products. A newsworthy name is no guarantee of a
good quality design, or even that they can deliver their own products,
through their own schema within their own agreed timescale...
(mentioning no names!)


>3.  if there isn't a standard schema for an industry document in XML, don't
>you think there should be one?  

Yes.  I also think there should be free beer. Maybe when they've
finished the first problem (shouldn't take beyond lunchtime) the w3c
can solve the second too.

It's an imperfect world, and it's changing so fast we can barely keep
up with what's already out there. No sense in beating each other up
over why there isn't yet a single agreed answer to everything.


>4.  for all the XML schema documents posted at biztalk.org, are any of them
>standard at all?  

BizTalk is a registry for exchanging schemas in a somewhat automated
manner. BizTalk does not change the issues discussed above; the issue
of who chooses the schema to use from those available, the design of
the schema, or the various trade-offs in fitting that schema to the
business' existing processes.  Neither does BizTalk fix broken
schemas.

You may also have an issue (I certainly do) with BizTalk's IP rights
for schemas within it.  Schema IP rights are enormously valuable
(certainly worth more than domain names or lastminute.com stock) and
are as yet undervalued and unappreciated.



(I sent this yesterday, but used the wrong account and I think the
listserver bounced it. Apologies if anyone sees two copies)

--
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Received on Wednesday, 10 May 2000 07:11:42 GMT

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