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8-Dec-04

Introducing XML Consortium

AIMING AT THE BROAD USE OF XML AND WEB SERVICES FOR BUSINESSES AND SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

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1. Summary

XML Consortium is a non-profit organization which supports enlightenment and encouragement of application development and system integration related to XML (eXtensible markup Language), Web Services, and SOA (Service Oriented Architecture), as well as the standardization of XML vocabularies. XML Consortium was founded in April 2001 as an open consortium to scaled-up activities, with the unification of three independent organizations that had been conducting XML technologies enlightenment activities.
Three years after, along with the expantion of XML technologies and application development, XML Consortium has re-invented itself aiming at broader use of XML and Web Services for businesses and social infrastructure. With its member companies more than 200, the vendor-independent and collaboration-based activities of XML Consortium is gathering high expectations more then ever. This article outlines the plan and brief achievement review of the Consortium so far.

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2. Action Plan for the Fiscal Year 2004
1) Basic Strategy
As the basic strategy, XML Consortium does i) enlightenment, ii) research and demonstration, and iii) standardization of XML, Web Services and SOA. Furthermore, XML Consortium maintains the effort to expand its characteristics and strength of: i) neutrality, ii) collaboration with other organizations, iii) competition-free activities that cannot be achieved with a single commertial company, iv) human networ establishment , and v) public disclosure of the deliverables.
2) New Activities

XML Consortium has been actively pursuing the departmental activities and monthly seminars from the beginning. As new activities in 2004, the Consortium picked up SOA as a new theme and created SOA Committee. Ubiquitous and Embedding Committee is also newly created to research, evaluate and evangelize the usability of XML, Web Services and SOA in the social infrastructure. It also cooperates with YRP Ubiquitous Network Laboratory and Digital Document Laboratory of the Information Processing Society of Japan. Another new committee we have established is Business Innovation Research Committee which research, evaluate and evangelize the usability of XML, Web Services and SOA for business.
Regarding the expansion and improvement of the activities in 2004, we would like to emphasizes the demonstrations featuring particular industries and disclosure of the deliverables, demonstrations cooperating with the standardizing activities, and guidance development for typical implementation of standard technologies. Other activities for enlightenment which should be reinforced include user symposiums to support user companies which was started in 2003, and local seminars to support remote area. In standardization effort, TravelXML, the standard for Travel industry created in 2003, will enter the second phase. Cooperation with OASIS and industry associations is also planned. Cooperation effort with new parties will be discussed in addition to strengthening the existing relationships.

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3. Activities Overview
1) Organization and Committee Activities
Figure-1 shows the organization of XML Consortium. There are gcommitteesh categorized in Technology, Business, and Standardization. The members of each consortium can attend any committee with no restrictions.
2) XML Consortium Seminars
The gXML Consortium Seminarh is well backed-up activity for enlightenment of XML technologies. Inviting researchers and engineers active at the forefront as the speakers, the seminars provide valuable XML-related information. This is one of the most supportive activities in the consortium for its rich contents.
3) Standardization
XML Consortium is making further effort to standardize XML-based technologies for various industries. For example, ContactXML by ContactXML Committee members, TravelXML co-developed with Japan Association of Travel Agents, and ContentsBusinessXML co-developed with Digital Contents Association of Japan.
4) Evangelists
XML Consortium appoints the experts of XML and related technologies in the member companies as evangelists. There are 23 evangelists at the point of writing, who present at the XML Consortium Seminars as well as public conferences. They also write articles in magazines and online media to support enlightenment activities.
5) Support Other Organizationsf Activities

XML Consortium supports the XML enlightenment activities conducted by other parties.
In the past, the consortium has established relationships with Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport , Japan Association of Travel Agents, XBRL Japan, ECOM, WS-I JSIG, OMG, DOPG, and Manufacturing XML Promotion Forum.
XML Consortium also sponsor XML-related events for the further expandion of XML activities outside of the consortium.

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4. Innovation Driven by Standardization
XML Consortium has started the support of standardization of industry specifications based on XML from last year. The followings are the latest two examples of the innovation.
1) TravelXML
TravelXML is a standard specification co-developed with Japan Association of Travel Agents, in which the various electric data interchange specifications defined by each travel companies independently are integrated. By utilizing the Internet and XML as the communication tool, TravelXML connects the domestic and international accommodation facilities, tour operators, and travel agencies in real-time, and contribute to the acceleration of the operation with more efficient system, cost reduction and the improvement of service to customers.

The first phase of the specification was publicly announced in February 2004, including following three kinds of business transactions; i) Specification for ordering data to overseas facilities and operators, ii) Specification for inventory query, reservation and additional data to domestic facilities, iii) Specification for inventory query, reservation and additional information notification to tour operators.

In October 2004, the following three additional business transactions will be announced as TravelXML 1.2 Recommendation as the first step of the second phase.

i)   Standard specification of accounting information format of travel agencies and domestic facilities.

ii)  Standard specification of facility information and tariff information provided by domestic facilities.

iii) Standard specification of company information provided by travel agencies to suppliers.

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2) ContentsBusinessXML
ContentsBusinessXML which was co-developed with Digital Content Association of Japan, became the Recommendation of XML Consortium in September 2003. It is an XML-based standard for digital content business on the internet which is structured with the digital content distribution related companies (rights management organizations, content holders, and distribution companies). The specification enables the content distribution market to automate the distribution permission and usage permission processes in the layered transaction (rights management organizations <-> content holders <-> distribution companies).
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5. The Latest Topics
1) Public Demonstration of Web Services for Tourist Information Distribution
The prototype system of Web Services for Tourist Information Distribution was publicly demonstrated in May 2003 with the cooperation of Japan Tourism Association. It combined the Web Services platforms of various vendors to construct end-to-end service from tourism departments of lo cal governments to end users using actual information based on Web Services technologies. This was the first attempt of Web Services application for tourist information in Japan .
2) Public Demonstration of Web Services for Travel Business Transaction
The demonstration was done in May 2004 to create new business model for travel industry by combining TravelXML, the standard for electronic business transaction in travel industry, and Web Services technology. With cooperation of Japan Association of Travel Agents, the demonstration has shown the electronic business model to handle travel products (tour packages). Web Services were utilized to connect the processing systems of three kinds of related firms: travel planning companies (gWholesalersh), travel agencies (gRetailersh), accommodation facilities (gHotelsh). The demonstration showed i) traditional asynchronous transaction, ii) real-time transaction leveraging the Web Services characteristics, iii) secure transaction with field-level message encryption, to evaluate efficiency of TravelXML and Web Services in real business.
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6. Conclusion
As stated above, XML Consortium has been achieving the remarkable results with the activities to make the best use of XML and Web Services for businesses and social infrastructure. Adding SOA as the new theme this year, the consortium has been facilitating the activities in even greater degree. These activities are intended to provide the learning opportunities of business literacy to vendors and IT literacy to users, and to provide the active communication community between vendors and users. XML Consortium welcome any party and any individual which have intereste in the activities.
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Reference:
http://www.xmlconsortium.org/

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Author:
Harumi Tahara (IBM Japan, Ltd.)
Vice President & Chairperson of the Steering Committee,
XML Consortium

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Copyright(C),2000-2004 The XML Consortium
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