EDI standards group adopts XML

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"Mixed messages"

A lack of standardization has hampered those hoping to tap Extensible Markup Language's potential.

Organizations have struggled to implement the technology without standards, said Ralph Berwanger, vice chairman of the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12, which develops electronic data interchange (EDI) standards. "There are untold numbers of [XML] documents doing the same business process, but they are not interoperable," he said.

ASC X12, however, is attempting to bring more order to XML. For more than 20 years, the organization has maintained a formal process for developing X12 EDI messages. Now it is setting up a similar structure for XML.

The committee recently approved a design reference model that provides the basics for building an XML business message. The group is soon expected to approve specific design rules that will provide guidance "on how to actually assemble an XML business message standard," according to an ASC X12 spokeswoman. Subcommittees will use the design reference model and rules to develop industry-specific XML messages.

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