When the industry is crying out for standards – customer validation

This afternoon, I received a comment to my original blog about reinventing standards from Ronald Duncan of @UK PLC.

I feel that Ronald’s reply builds significantly onto the original blog and therefore deserves a special mention in this new blog as opposed to being hidden in a comment:


BASDA are current in the process of updating BASDA XML. I know it is nice and stable and we have not needed a release for 5 years, but in the same way we were one of the first XML schemas in existence back in 1999, and are still the most widely adopted globally. BASDA Green XML released into pilot this summer and currently in interoperability testing.

Is the first XML format to support Carbon footprints, embedded water, waste and all the other things that need to tracked in a modern world.

BASDA Green XML link

Regarding reinventing the wheel, there are lots of standards out there. My company @UK PLC is one of the largest interoperability hubs in the world with over 1 million users, and the flavours that we see are as follows:-

Mainly BASDA XML with a reasonable amount of cXML
xCBL some messages slowed down after commerce one went bust and stopped when BT turned off their old commerce one server
UBL despite a lot of hype 0 messages so far
GS1 XML less hype but also 0 messages so far

UK Tradacom
and some EDIFACT

Who uses BASDA XML, well basda members

Access Dimensions

I am not going to try and list every single vendor, but it is pretty well every single major finance system vendor.

I do know a couple of non-basda members that we have used basda xml with Forte by Cyberscience and Finest by Software AG.

The other group that have standardised on BASDA XML are the Hub Alliance.

The hub alliance is a global association of order and invoice hubs

The members all have high volumes of transactions and interoperate using BASDA XML.

Many thanks for your comments Ronald.

4 replies on “When the industry is crying out for standards – customer validation”

Thanks Stuart,

LOL , next time please tidy up my English if it is going into a headline article – .

Sadly the comments on seem to be broken. My comment was happy to carry out interoperability testing with Xeno in any format.

From an @UK PLC point of view will happily implement the flying frog or extra mad babble standard if there is a reasonable number of users at the other end. Some of the proprietary standards we have implemented over the years have been spectacularly bad!! And simpleubl could not be any worse!!

We just connect

1 vendors mess into either
* a standard
* another vendors interpretation of a standard (usually there are as many interpretations of a standard as there are vendors using the standard).
* another vendors mess

At the moment simpleubl looks like another vendor sponsored mess. A lot less weight behind it than say OAGXML (Oracle sponsored mess), and currently vapour ware, but at least it is something and if Xeno want us to talk simpleubl we are delighted to do so, on the assumption that as a cloud system all their customers will be able to talk simpleubl and we can interact.

The other part of the comment I tried to leave on the simpleubl site is that we want to cover off the entire cycle.

* requisition (so we have correct parts, prices config etc at the start)
* purchase order
* goods receipt
* invoice
* payment status

This is a 5 star integration and our preference, but we will accept just Req,po and invoice and can do any single message, and just send their customers html for whatever they can not implement.

On the suppliers side
* ecommerce feed/synchronisation (we have lots of solutions)
* Inbound PO
* inbound Goods receipt/Returns advice (can show in our portal)
* Invoice
* inbound payment status (can show in our portal)


We had a great launch of our Green Marketplace yesterday by the environment minister, which meant I was late into last nights awards, and headed off home after BB’s speech.

As Ronald has first hand experience of operating a hub with decent throughput it would be great if he could share some stats. Perhaps volume per month vs. standard. My dealings with @UK PLC were some time ago and for that particular installation all the transactions related to supplying a public sector organisation. I don’t know if transactions are predominantly public sector now or not – so the industry type and company size of the transactions would also be useful information as context to gauge whether it would be valid to extrapolate from the stats to form a picture of the market place as a whole.

And a +1 from me against re-inventing the wheel for three reasons. Firstly the Basda standard is based on XML, which is inherently extensible (clue in the name). Secondly because, in addition to the many functional and technical obstacles that were overcome, well articulated by Stuart in his post, many semantic ambiguities were resolved which are now well understood in custom and practice. Thirdly because there is such a large installed base of compliant software, even though much of it is latent.

There was a good reason why all the parties chose BASDA as a forum for agreeing the standard and it strikes me those reasons are still valid: Independent, credible, widely supported and with experience of charting a course through both commercial, legal, fiscal and regulatory issues.

(And if I recall correctly the commercial rivalry between the collaborating vendors was just as keen then as it is now.)

These are not stats, unlike our KPI nos which get stored every hour

KPIs at 12/10/2010 19:05:55

No of Users 1,031,791

So my estimate based on who connects to us and the volumes are probably as follows:-

Buyside – Punchout
SAP OCI Punchout – 10%
Oracle Punchouts – 10%
cXML punchouts – 70%
Single Signon Protocol – 5%
sbxp – 5%

Buyside PO/Invoice
SAP idoc 10%
Oracle OAGXML/flatfile 10%
cXML 20%
Bespoke 10%

Supplyside – Punchout
cXML – 70%
sbxp – 30%

SupplySide – PO/Invoice
cXML – 30%

These are all guestimates so I could be very wrong.

I know from talking with the other members of the hub alliance that the market generally is BASDA and cXML, and that’s it. No xCBL, UBL, GS1 xml. There are some companies like Denmark that have their own XML standard ( but only invoicing is supported, and they are going to switch to something else so they have both orders and invoices).

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