Yesterday morning I was doing some accounting and needed to sort quite a lot of invoices from different suppliers. With the PLMLab (a french association for PLM) we’re working on a document about standards, and so when I see all these invoices that are different and knowing that for most of them I don’t have an electronic version, I’m quite upset about how we are late an standardizing these regular business documents. At the same time, my activity with Aras Innovator makes me work a lot with XML so most the document I see, I imagine having them in XML. It even gets annoying for some people, a friend of mine who is a Nephrologist (she fix kidneys) recently made me review one of her articles (more for english than for medical help), and my first reaction was “I think we could standardize this kind of medical case study!!”. So, that’s how much I think through XML and standardization. Well, back to the invoice, I started thinking about how an invoice would look like in XML. And then I had two thoughts:
- How could we make people start using these formats without having a huge pain for migration? Could we build some kind of tripit.com website but instead of analysing trips confirmation (flights, hotels,…) we would analyse invoice and convert them into XML?
- The second thought was to realize that maybe people have already worked on this XML based business document standard? So, after a quick search on Google, I realized that OASIS, the organisation who made the OpenDocument become a standard, already defined something called UBL which stands for Universal Business Language. As defined in Wikipedia it is “a library of standard electronic XML business document such as purchase orders and invoices”. Today there are 31 documents specified in this set.
This is not changing PLM world but it helps to reduce the number of files replacing them by integrated data based on open standards and easy to read.
I saw that a company is selling .net libraries to help developpers providing UBL support : http://www.simpleubl.com. You can also find a lot of ressources on the UBL XML community website:
Just my quick thoughts on that topic. Please, share your experience with UBL if you’ve ever had to use it.