ebXML (Electronic Business XML) is a project to use the Extensible Markup Language (XML) to standardize the secure exchange of business data. Among other purposes, ebXML would encompass and perhaps replace a familiar standard called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). ebXML is designed to enable a global electronic marketplace in which enterprises of any size, and in any location, could safely and securely transact business through the exchange of XML-based messages. 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) launched the project as a joint initiative. Its membership includes 75 companies, including major IT vendors and trade associations throughout the world.
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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.
A white paper on the official ebXML Web site explains that the initiative is built on three basic concepts: (1) provide an infrastructure that ensures data communication interoperability; (2) provide a semantics framework that ensures commercial interoperability; and (3) provide a mechanism that allows enterprises to find each other, agree to become trading partners and conduct business with each other. The core infrastructure specifications of ebXML are the messaging service, the registry and repository, and the collaborative partner agreement. The messaging service specification has been developed enough to enable early development work. The registry and repository and the collaborative partner specifications are nearing completion, with the complete set of ebXML specifications expected to be finished in May 2001.