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ebXML at Five


Over the years since my since my original series of articles on ebXML people have suggested that I should write about how ebXML has progressed. The fifth anniversary of the completion of the initial ebXML effort seemed to be as good a time as any. In doing this retrospective I wanted to offer a forum to viewpoints and voices other than my own, so I issued a call for participation to the ebXML-dev and edi-l listservs. Three original submissions were received. I also issued a general request for information about mission-critical, production ebXML deployments to the same listservs.


NOTE: I had originally planned to post this retrospective in May of 2006. However, I experienced some unanticipated personal conflicts and was out of the office most of that month. Due to catching up from that absence and other later professional commitments it was not until December 2006 that I was finally able to complete this piece. Most of the information was current as of May 2006, but in some cases it is current as of December 2006.

Original Submissions

I wish to offer my sincere thanks to Monica Martin, Dale Moberg, Tim McGrath, and the members of the OASIS ebXML Joint Committee for their submissions. These three submissions offer good, thoughtful commentary and summaries about ebXML at five years from people who are actively involved in the ebXML community.

Reference Sites for Implementation Information

Mission Critical Production Deployments

I received fewer original submissions than I thought was necessary to provide a well-rounded picture of ebXML at five years. So, as noted above I asked for information mission-critical production depolyments. Pilot projects, case studies, proofs of concept, reference implementations, open-source initiatives, commercial products, endorsements, and official recommendations are all important, but the best measure of a technology's acceptance is someone actually using it every day.


My sincere appreciation is offered to everyone who responded to my requests for information, including and especially those who challenged me in one way or another. I extend special thanks to David RR Webber for his many messages and tenacity. I learned something from all of you. At the very least I learned that there are still a lot of people who are very passionate about ebXML.


Despite these efforts, I was only able to compile a list of less than twenty mission-critical, production deployments (most with multiple participants). I'm sure that the list isn't comprehensive or exhaustive about ebXML implementations as of May 2006. It is merely what was forwarded to me and what I was able to discover through my own research. But I was surprised to find this few. My opinion is that I didn't hear about more or discover more deployments because they don't exist. Others offered opinions that they do exist, but people just didn't want to offer information about them to me for various reasons. Draw your own conclusions.


Many of the deployments are of the hub-and-spoke variety with somewhat closed or captive communities. While they may handle large numbers of messages and have many participants, they hardly equate to the broad, heterogeneous trading communities currently using various EDI messaging standards over a variety of protocols.


The items listed here encompass most of the information that was submitted to me. With only a few exceptions, the deployments on this list were verified on the web either by the organization responsible for the deployment or via detailed reports by an independent public source such as a trade journal or conference presentation. I did not use second hand reports via e-mail or brief mention in an article or on a web page that I could not verify by other means. If you know of other deployments that you would like to see listed here please let me know. I will add them if they meet the same criteria and were in production as of December 2006. Note: For registries, those listed appear to be live with login screens, but I did not evaluate their content or how much they are being used.

Other Articles of Interest

  • "Carmakers unite on global data sharing" Network World - "Show organizer Automotive Industry Action Group surveyed 30 large truck, car and equipment makers to get a sense of which technologies they are using as they move toward service-oriented architectures (SOA). Almost all of them said they are using Web services, though a quarter also said they are using ebXML."
  • "ebXML - 5 years later" - Klaus Naujok, chair of the ebXML Work Group during the 18 month project - Blog entry at Klaus' Korner

Closing Comments

Rawlins on ebXML at Five



© Michael C. Rawlins