Universal Business Language
(UBL) is a library of standard electronic XML
business documents such as purchase orders
. UBL was developed by an 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. It is designed to eliminate the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based business correspondence and provide an entry point into electronic commerce
for small and medium-sized businesses.
UBL version 2.0 was approved as an OASIS Committee Specification in October 2006 and has been publicly released. UBL is owned by OASIS and is currently available to all, with no royalty fees. The UBL library of business documents is a well-developed markup language with validators, authoring software, parsers and generators.
UBL 2.0 traces its origins back to the EDI standards and other derived XML standards. In total there are 31 documents covering business needs in the phases of presale, ordering, delivery, invoicing and payment.
Northern European Subset - NES
As part of the Northern European cooperation on e-commerce and e-procurement, representatives from Denmark
have set up a working group for developing a Northern European subset of UBL 2.0 documents. The main focus of NES is to define the semantic
use of UBL 2.0 as applied to specific business processes
. To achieve this the UBL 2.0 standard is restricted on additional levels by using "profiles" that apply to defined business situations. The use of individual elements is specifically described to avoid conflicting interpretation. Additionally each country has developed guidelines that describe the application of the NESUBL subset to domestic business practices. The goal is to enable companies and institutions to implement e-commerce by agreeing to a specific profile and thus eliminate the need for bilateral implementation. Additional countries have shown interest in joining the work. The NESUBL subset was published in March 2007.
Applications based on NES are expected to become widely available. Based on government initiatives in each country, wide public use is expected. The Danish government has actively been using a UBL variant called OIOXML since 2005 as part of their eGovernment initiative. In June 2007 the Icelandic government started to receive and accept — as fully legal documents — electronic invoices conforming to profile 4 of the NES subset. Work is also underway in Italy, Spain, Holland and the European Commission itself.
Further development of NES has been moved over to CEN/BII workshop and will be an important tool in the PEPPOL project, Pan European Public Procurement project.
Spanish UBL version based in CCI
In Spain, UBL is being used primarily for electronic invoice encoding. The UBL Spanish Localization Committee has been actively developing UBL awareness and has created implementation guidelines to allow easy adoption of UBL based on previous work done by CCI.