With so many versions of XML being promoted, it's no surprise that a standard for the standard was announced on Monday.
The Business Internet Consortium (BIC) released its publication of a "conceptual model" for XML that targets the language's use in e-business applications. The model defines specific protocols that represent a convergence of XML approaches taken in different industries represented by BIC members.
The BIC group is comprised of vendors, including Compaq Computer, IBM, Intel and Microsoft, as well as users including Ford Motor, The Gillette Co. and Reuters Group PLC.
According to Terry Spires, chairman of BIC and a marketing manager at Intel, more than 250 versions of XML are available, each with subtle differences in the way messages are handled within an application.
For example, at Reuters, the company is "intimately involved with NewsML," an XML version for delivering financial and other news online, according to Scott Jeffreys, senior vice president of technology alliances at the London-based news and information-services company.
What makes the XML and other guidelines from the consortium important, said Jeffreys, who heads the customer advisory board for BIC, is that instead of defining a standard in an abstract sense, it works to solve specific Internet-related problems that users face in day-to-day business.
BIC's XML model will be useful to Reuters, he said, because the company "not only consumes XML feeds from other companies, but we produce them. We get to see both sides of the equation."
BIC's XML model was also released with implementation case studies from Intel, Ford and RosettaNet to give users specific instructions on how to follow the converged approach to XML.