WebRef Update: Featured Article: XML: To Be, or not B2B? | 2 | WebReference

WebRef Update: Featured Article: XML: To Be, or not B2B? | 2


XML: To Be, or not B2B?

Here are some of the contenders trying to develop schemas for XML: RosettaNet, ACORD, HL7, CBL, cXML. Also among the contenders is a little known Redmond based company called Microsoft. Their particular foray into schema is BizTalk. You can see why XML is not yet widely used today. With all the different schema being developed, most of us are waiting for the smoke to clear to see which schema is left standing.

The other problem is what to do with the documents once they are received. The invoice that the retailer receives is going to be in an XML format. How does the retailer get the invoice into the accounting software so the bill can be paid? Believe it or not, this is still a problem using traditional EDI. The way this problem is handled now is to hire computer programmers to write "maps" or links, into the existing accounting or inventory control programs on the supplier side. On the retailer side, a link needs to be written to the Point of Sale system.

Mapping an XML document is considerably easier than traditional EDI. An XML document includes metadata, which is data about data. Metadata allows an XML document to include identifiers that define the data including how the data should be processed, who can access the data, who can change it, and how the data can be used. But the big hope for XML will be realized when the mainstream business software packages incorporate the ability to import XML documents the way most database programs can import a comma delimited file - and that will require standards.

So, will XML be the next big thing? Absolutely. Despite all the delay, the need for XML is real. And what does this mean to the Web developers? All those retailers out there are going to need people to write code for them, at least until the major software companies start developing templates in their office software. Even after that, the larger companies are going to need XML experts to write code. The sheer volume of their business means they cannot rely solely on templates. Want to really make a killing? Learn XML and the mapping used to import the data into the legacy systems. You'll be able to write your own ticket and retire to some tropical island in three years.

One last note: I read the other day that a new standard is being developed to incorporate HTML and XML into XHTML. Welcome to the Internet - the only place where a standard can be developed and become obsolete before it has ever been used.

About the Author:

Mark Henry has a BS in Finanace from Arizona State, and an MBA from the University of Pheonix. Mark has over 14 years of sales and marketing experience in Business to business environments, and is currently employed by SPS Commerce.

You can contact Mark at: MarkH@rnetedi.com

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This article originally appeared in the March 30, 2000 edition of the WebReference Update Newsletter.

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Comments are welcome
Written by Mark Henry and

Revised: May 9, 2000

URL: http://webreference.com/new/xmlb2bpt2.html