In today's fast-paced eCommerce world, companies that adopt the new languages like XML are surviving, and the ones that cling to outdated systems are stagnating. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language, but that is a bit of a misnomer. XML is more of a meta-language, a language that defines how to create other languages. Its strength lies in the (mostly) plain text nature of it and it's child languages.
Instead of other languages, that can sometimes be cryptic at best, you can understand most XML files just by opening them in a browser and reading them. This has brought XML to the reach of more than just programmers, facilitated its use in open-source and modifiable projects, and originated cXML for eCommerce.
History of XML
XML started as a project for the W3C to bring another SMGL, Standard Generalized Markup Language, into use on the web(they had also created the first, and more well known, HTML). XML is a direct profile of SMGL, and in fact, much of it was implemented unchanged. The XML development team was comprised of eleven people, with James Clark acting as technical lead, who all worked mostly via email and teleconference; those eleven were supported by a 150 member interest group.
This interest group marked one of the very rare times that Netscape team members worked alongside Microsoft employees. V1 was released and recommended by the W3C in 1998. From its roots as a World Wide Web tool, its practical application grew considerably, reaching most application fields, including eCommerce, metadata applications, pervasive computing, personal finance, gaming, and entertainment production.
XML vs EDI for eCommerce Platforms
XMLs strengths are starkly in contrast to EDI's. Customization and readability are the main drives of XML. This can be a central point when an eCommerce platform is worked on by so many people
EDI, Electronic Data Interchange, has been around since the 1960s. This also informs many of its design features. EDI was created in part to shift the reliance on large amounts of paper information, and keep data size to a minimum(in the 1960s a 7MB HDD ran approx $25k USD). By these metrics, EDI was very successful, and are both huge reasons that EDI has been in use from the 1960s until today. However there were downsides, the data is very specifically formated and impossible to read for someone not well versed in the language.
With modern storage no longer placing such a premium on space, developers are able to switch applications that previously relied on EDI over to XML. This opened the door for cXML to make eCommerce Integration more accessible.
XML Variants; cXML, adML, ebXML
As mentioned further up, XML is closer to a meta-language than a true language. What this means in practicality is that as XML is adopted in an industry, a specific set of schemas, or framework, is created and shared as a standard.
- cXML: commerceXML: Designed to facilitate communication between many different companies and different eProcurement systems.
- adsML: A business to business ecommerce advertising standard to communicate between newspapers, advertising agencies, and broadcasters
- BeerXML: A standard for exchanging data amongst breweries
- ePUB: A common open e-book standard to work across a multitude of e-readers
- RailML: A standard for the railway industry to communicate specifications.
- Many others...
XML can take many forms, but the one most commonly seen in the eCommerce space is appropriately,cXML.
Why XML for your eCommerce website? Supply Chain Management
cXML integration for an eCommerce website is a very sound choice. cXML is one of the most popular choices to enable the use of Punchout Catalog eProcurement systems. eProcurement software systems enable the buyer to connect directly with their suppliers directly inside of their own systems. Fater, more integrated systems benefit greatly streamline supply chain management; buyers can automate their orders or increase them with a few clicks of a button, and suppliers can have real-time data on their buyer's needs.
If you're considering XML, currently using XML, or would like more of an understanding of how to make eCommerce Integration more accessible using XML, Clarity can help. Call now for a free consultation