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The XML FAQ — Frequently-Asked Questions about the Extensible Markup Language

Section 4: Developers

Q 4.22: What's the story on XML and EDI?

Getting there: still needs more work and agreement.

Electronic Data Interchange has been used in e-commerce for many years to exchange documents between commercial partners to a transaction. It requires special proprietary software and is prohibitively expensive to implement for small and medium-sized enterprises. There are moves to enable EDI documents to travel inside XML, as well as proposals to replace the existing EDI formats with XML ones. There are guideline documents at http://www.eccnet.com/xmledi/guidelines-styled.xml and http://www.geocities.com/WallStreet/Floor/5815/guide.htm.

Probably the biggest effect on EDI is the rise of standardisation attempts for XML business documents and transactions. The standard jointly sponsored by OASIS and United Nations/CEFACT is ebXML (Electronic Business XML) which provides Schemas for the common commercial transaction document types. Normal office documents (letters, reports, spreadsheets, etc) are already being done using the materials under the charge of the OASIS Open Office XML Formats TC, detailed above. Other standards such as OAGI and RosettaNet are undergoing interoperability testing with ebXML.

In addition to full standards, there are many sets of shims, interoperability tools, and component libraries such XML Common Business Library (xCBL).