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perspectives on open-source and web services

Friday, November 12, 2004

good followup

this is a good follow-up to yesterday's post.
here we have an interview with Jon Bosak, the 'Father of XML', (I guess they couldn't get a hold of Goldfarb, so they had this Sun guy fill in) talking about UBL 1.0. UBL is one of those standards that has good intentions, but will probably fail in its goals. they are trying to create a standard language for order and procurement business activites (to start with). but as I talked about yesterday, businesses are different from each other, and especially small businesses. but all businesses are different, and here's an example straight from Bosak:
"For example, in Japanese commercial law, every invoice has to have field for an inspection date; that did not come up in other requirements. In 1.1, we will have to define a field for inspection date in invoices."
well, is that field going to be mandatory, or optional? obviously, Japanese companies would like it to be mandatory, but other companies won't have inspection dates. and individual small busineses might have their own mandatory fields, but those fields aren't mandatory for others.
of course, in XML you can make all the fields optional (or add more fields, even!) and let businesses require them at the application level, but XML and especially XML Schema were created so that you could get away from having application-specific functionality in your information communication systems. and if everyone is just taking the standard and changing it, then it's no different than every business having their own formats that just happen to be very similar.
it would be 10x more useful to have a mapping standard rather than trying to conform to a pre-defined set of data rules that are trying to accomodate all companies around the world.


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