UBL, the Universal Business Language, is the product of an international effort to define a royalty-free library of standard electronic XML business documents such as purchase orders and invoices. Developed in an open and accountable OASIS Technical Committee with participation from a variety of industry data standards organizations, UBL is designed to plug directly into existing business, legal, auditing, and records management practices, eliminating the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based supply chains and providing an entry point into electronic commerce for small and medium-sized businesses.
What needs does the solution address
Since its approval as a W3C recommendation in 1998, XML has been adopted in a number of industries as a framework for the definition of the messages exchanged in electronic commerce. The widespread use of XML has led to the development of multiple industry-specific XML versions of such basic documents as purchase orders, shipping notices, and invoices.
While industry-specific data formats have the advantage of maximal optimization for their business context, the existence of different formats to accomplish the same purpose in different business domains is attended by a number of significant disadvantages as well.
The OASIS Universal Business Language (UBL) is intended to help solve these problems by defining a generic XML interchange format for business documents that can be restricted or extended to meet the requirements of particular industries. Specifically, UBL provides the following:
Trading Communties, Interoperability projects, eBusiness Service Providers, eBusiness implementers, eBusiness policy makers.
How to reuse the solution?
UBL is designed to provide a universally understood and recognized syntax for legally binding business documents and to operate within a standard business framework such as ISO 15000 (ebXML) to provide a complete, standards-based infrastructure that can extend the benefits of existing EDI systems to businesses of all sizes. UBL is freely available to everyone without legal encumbrance or licensing fees.
UBL schemas are modular, reusable, and extensible in XML-aware ways. As the first standard implementation of ebXML Core Components Technical Specification 2.01, the UBL Library is based on a conceptual model of information components known as Business Information Entities (BIEs). These components are assembled into specific document models such as Order and Invoice. These document models are then transformed in accordance with UBL Naming and Design Rules into W3C XSD schema syntax. This approach facilitates the creation of UBL-based document types beyond those specified in this release.
The following videos explain how to navigate the UBL standard specification and how UBL addresses specific business requirements including use cases of reuse of UBL for transportation and procurement fields. Finally, the last video shows how UBL can be customized.
Link to public policies
Beginning with the 2005 adoption of UBL for all public sector invoicing in Denmark (a transition that continues to save that government some 100 million euros in labor costs annually), UBL has become through its CEN BII localization the foundation for a number of successful European public procurement frameworks, including EHF (Norway), Svefaktura (Sweden), ePrior (European Commission DIGIT), and PEPPOL, a growing pan-European procurement infrastructure whose participants currently include government agencies from Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Sweden. Other implementations for public and private sector eInvoicing include E-Fatura (Turkey), Factura Electronica (Peru), SimplerInvoicing (the Netherlands), and Tradeshift (global).
UBL has also become foundational to a number of efforts in the transport domain, including eFreight (European Commission - DG MOVE).
In keeping with the original vision of UBL as a standard basis for electronic business in general, UBL is now increasingly used by organizations whose scope extends beyond the generic Buy-Ship-Pay model. These include the European Commission's Textile, Clothing, and Footwear industry group (eBiz-TCF).