XML interoperability could receive a boost as the OASIS (Organisation for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) consortium in the US initiates public access to the first phase of XML.org Registry, an open registry and repository for XML specifications and vocabularies.
The registry will allow companies from numerous industries to submit their XML schemas online in a secure environment that will foster collaboration and communication within industries, said Laura Walker, executive director at OASIS. Walker added that this ability addresses a core problem in today's business-to-business (B2B) marketplace.
"OASIS is good at bringing competitors together and getting them to cooperate," Walker said. "There is a need for agreement, and we have to get together and figure this stuff out. It is a crucial part of the e-business framework."One analyst said that the registry is a necessary and crucial step driving toward XML standards, but that it still does not answer the question of who will be responsible for making those decisions.
"It's a long time coming . . . but it's only one piece of the puzzle," said IDC analyst Steve Garone. "There is still an issue of establishing the standards themselves, and there needs to be a decision-making entity to do that."Sun Microsystems and Doc- umentum have both co-sponsored the initiative, contributing more than $US500,000 to the registry.
"This addresses a big part of the problem today, this sort of Tower of Babylon," said Howard Shao, CTO of Documentum. "How can we make the market more efficient? It's a community where people can come to and share information, a necessary booster to (B2B)."Sun officials gave the common example of how a shoe business might use XML.org Registry to help it deal with suppliers and partners in different countries.
XML will allow the shoe supplier to transcend many linguistic and cultural obstacles, said Bill Smith, an engineering manager at Sun.
"Translation is not enough; you also need to let it be known what type of information I need to know as a business partner," Smith said.
Smith touted XML's durability and flexibility as a business language. "This is not for the next six months or five years; this is for the next century," he said.
The registry is available at www.xml.org