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XML - eXtensible Markup Language
What is XML?
XML is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format which is both human-readable and machine-readable.
XML comes in two parts, the actual message and a separate XML Schema file called an XSD (XML Schema Definition) that defines the rules that the message is to be validated against. This allows for flexibility and extensibility as new data tags can be included in both documents as they are required, there is no fixed set of tags.
Advantages of XML
- Simplicity – Easy to read and understand and yet can still be processed easily by computers.
- Style Sheets – The layout of the data can changed and viewed using a separate style sheet, without the actual structure of the data changing at all.
- Open Standard – XML is a standard of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) - the main international standards organisation for the World Wide Web.
- Extendable – New tags can be created as they are needed. No fixed set of tags.
- Cheap – Designed for communication via the internet such as AS2, sFTP or HTTP.
The key terminology
- (Unicode) character – XML is a string of characters, almost all legal Unicode characters may appear in an XML document.
- Processor – XML parser to analyse the data.
- Markup and Content – The characters in the XML document are divided into markup and content. Typically markup strings begin with the character < and end with >. Strings of characters that are not markup are content.
- Tag – A markup construct that begins with < and ends with >.
- Element – A document component that begins with a start tag and ends with a matching end tag.
- Attribute – Provides additional information that is not part of the data.
- XML declaration – The XML document may begin by declaring some information about itself.
- DTD schema – The oldest schema language for XML is the Document Type Definition (DTD).
- XSD schema - A newer schema language, described by the W3C as the successor of DTDs.
What is cXML?
cXML (Commerce eXtensible Markup Language) is a communications protocol for business documents between applications, e-commerce hubs and trading partners.
cXML is based on XML and uses XML schemas to validate the transactions as they are sent between the systems.
If, having looked at the XML/cXML standard, you are thinking "there must be a simpler way", then contact us. Our solution can meet all the XML/cXML requirements of your customers or suppliers but does not require specialist EDI software to be installed in your offices.
What is ebXML?
ebXML stands for “Electronic Business XML” which uses the Extensible Markup Language (XML) and aims to standardise the secure exchange of business data.
ebXML can be considered an alternative to Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and is designed to enable a global electronic marketplace for any organisation to safely and securely transact business through the exchange of XML-based messages.
The creation of ebXML was formed as a joint initiative by The United Nations body for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business Information Standards (UN/CEFACT) and the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS). Its membership includes 75 companies, including major IT vendors and trade associations throughout the world.
Because ebXML relies on the Internet's existing standards such as HTTP, TCP/IP, MIME, SMTP, FTP, UML, and XML, it can be implemented and deployed on virtually any computing platform. The use of existing standards gives ebXML the advantage of being relatively inexpensive and easy to use.