Start-up Veo Systems has released its XML-based Common Business Library to the public as a way to automate online commerce handled between computers.
The company also submitted CBL 1.1 for review as a potential standard to CommerceNet and RosettaNet, two industry groups focused on business-to-business commerce. Veo hopes releasing the protocol will accelerate the use of XML (eXtensible Markup Language) in e-commerce and boost Veo's consulting practice.
"XML is fundamentally about opening the Web to computers as well as to eyeballs so companiescan publish data sheets and price lists on the Web in a form that computers as well as people can understand," said Jay Tenenbaum, Veo's chairman and chief scientist and a veteran of e-commerce activities.
"XML by itself isn't enough. You need a common data model that everything can be mapped into, and that's what CBL provides," Tenenbaum said. Veo has released about 25 core business tags for defining purchase orders, invoices, request for quotes, catalog listings, and other documents. Included are data elements such as name, address, and quantity that are used in many documents.
The goal is to make e-commerce software from competitors talk to each other via XML, smoothing interoperability issues that can plague users, particularly in the business-to-business sphere.
Veo believes multiple e-commerce standards will emerge, and it aims to provide a framework that unifies such efforts as Open Buying on the Internet (OBI) for catalogs, Open Trading Protocol (OTP) for purchasing, Internet-based EDI (electronic data interchange), and industry-specific efforts like RosettaNet for distributing PCs.
"By allowing whole networks of trading partners to do business simply by exchanging business documents, CBL has the potential to spur growth of XML-based electronic commerce," analyst Mary Laplante, of Fastwater, said in a statement.
Veo is currently developing software tools based on CBL for companies to publish their business offerings online. It also has a run-time environment that takes CBL documents and translates them into documents that a buyer or seller can use.
Those products remain in development, but Veo is using them in pilot projects involving the U.S. General Services Administration and Japan's NTT Corporation. It hopes to license its tools to systems integrators.