XML: You'd think it couldn't get worse

There is an old saying about things having to get worse before they get better. And the news that yet more XML standards are being proposed is at least an indication that things are still getting worse.

The first new standard is VCML and the second, which doesn't have a name yet, is to be developed by the Salt Forum.

VCML, which stands for the Value Chain Markup Language, has been developed by Vitria and uses XML to transmit documents created using EDI (Electronic Data Interchange).

EDI was riddled with almost as many standards as XML and, in this first release, VCML supports 11 industry EDI specifications, including the Aerospace, Automotive and Health Care sectors, which is good for companies in those sectors but not much use for anybody else.

Unfortunately, VCML is not alone. Earlier this year SAP and Sun got together with Commerce One to address this same problem, coming up with something called Business Object Documents. In commmon with VCML this has been submitted to the ebXML/EDIFACT committee for use as a standard. And then again, there is RosettaNet, though many regard this as a too-technical approach.

Of course there is an alternative. You could use a mapping tool which will convert EDI documents into whatever form of XML you like. eXcelon, for example, offers such a facility. eXcelon too has an XML standard proposal, though this is in a slightly different arena. It has developed an XML update language. That is, it allows you to update XML documents using XML. So far, there are very few companies working in this area so this has a realistic chance of being adopted by W3C as at least the basis for such a language.

News source: The Register

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