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What's Brewing in XML: XML Messaging Protocols

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  1. XML Standards, Vocabularies, and Protocols
  2. The Big Picture
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Largely used until now for representing data, XML is now being adopted for data interchange. XML messaging technologies such as SOAP, UDDI, and WSDL will facilitate inter-enterprise cooperation on the Internet. This article is a brief look at what's brewing in the XML messaging space.
Bhavish Sood is a strategist with Plexus Technologies. Write to him at bhavishsood@yahoo.com.
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So what makes XML so popular? XML is license-free, platform-independent, and well-supported. As a W3C standard, XML is license-free; the large and growing support means that we are not tied to a single vendor. But I shall spare you the torture of reading once again what it can deliver!Before we move to understand the XML messaging and its role, let's first understand what is expected from XML (see Table 1) now that we know it is an ideal platform for data interchange

Table 1. Uses of XML



Document markup

Used for managing and electronically storing structured and semi-structured information. This is of great advantage because data is self-describing.

Data interchange

Specifies a standard way to define and structure XML-based messages exchanged between systems and applications (for example, ebXML/Biztalk).

Application integration

A good example is Web Interface Definition Language (WIDL), a universal API that facilitates interactions with Web servers to be defined as functional interfaces that can be accessed by remote systems over standard Web protocols. It also provides the structure necessary for generating client code in languages such as Java, C/C++, COBOL, and Visual Basic.


One of the major questions going around enterprise circles is will XML someday replace integration brokers? The answer is a clear no. Integration brokers will be used to document content, apply business rules, and intelligently route the message to the appropriate destination—something that XML can't perform. What will be required, however, are XML-enabled integration brokers.

XML Standards, Vocabularies, and Protocols

Going through an XML specification can be a nightmare for even the most technically savvy, and rightly so—with a list of terms and terminologies such as X Link, XSLT, XSL-FO, XML Namespaces, X-Pointer, SOAP, and so on. This XML family of technologies is so complex and broad that it's impossible to pick up the language easily. As an accepted classification practice. XML is divided into databases, vocabularies, and protocols.

XML Messaging Protocols Unleashed

XML messaging protocols are routing exchange guidelines drafted to make vertical XML standards interoperable (see Table 2), and aligning them with broader horizontal efforts (see Table 3) can result in true online process integration. So, XML messaging protocols ebXML by OASIS and Microsoft's BizTalk provide a framework that make vertical XML initiatives interoperable.

Table 2. Vertical XML Standards






DTC/Securities Industry Reference Format (SIRF)


Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD)

Health care





UCC/EAN/VICS (Value Chain Initiative)




Information Content Exchange (ICE)/Prism

High tech

Rosetta net

Table 3. XML Messaging Standards: Industry Snapshot






Developed by Microsoft, now a W3C standard



Promoted by the United Nations



World Wide Web Consortium



Developed by Microsoft


The growth of business-to-business commerce on the Internet faces challenges in scaling to universal adoption due to the multitude of technologies and standards used by businesses and e-marketplaces. UDDI addresses these challenges by providing two things:

  • Defines a platform-neutral set of specifications to enable businesses to describe themselves, and indicates their preferred means of conducting e-commerce transactions.

  • Includes the shared operation of a globally distributed UDDI Business Registry. in which companies publish information that describes how they conduct commerce and search for other businesses that provide the capabilities, Web services, or products they need. The goal of the UDDI Project is to offer the basic infrastructure for dynamic, automated integration of all e-commerce transactions and Web services.

UDDI aims to make business-to-business commerce adoption universal by providing businesses with a common mechanism to publish Web services on the Internet. Marketplaces, application service providers and individual businesses can use UDDI-enabled applications to dynamically define the services they offer over the Web, publish those services in the UDDI Business Registry and utilize the registry to connect with millions of other businesses globally. So in short UDDI is very much like a modern day yellow pages directory.


The Biztalk Framework provides implementation guidelines for XML-based document routing, and supports SOAP 1.1 for standards-based messaging—making it easier to integrate and interoperate business processes.

Per the framework documentation, it assumes that applications are distinct entities, and application integration takes place using a loosely coupled approach to exchange messages. There is no need for a common object model, programming language, network protocol, database, or operating system for two applications to exchange XML messages formatted using the BizTalk Framework. The two applications simply have to format, transmit, receive, and process a standardized XML message. BizTalk Framework interchanges do not require a specific software product from a particular software vendor. They support message interchanges through HTTP, SMTP, and MSMQ, among others.

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