ebXML Overview

ebXML (Electronic Business using eXtensible Markup Language), is a modular suite of specifications that enables enterprises of any size and in any geographical location to conduct business over the Internet. Using ebXML, companies now have a standard method to exchange business messages, conduct trading relationships, communicate data in common terms and define and register business processes.

ebXML includes five types of specifications, which may be implemented singly or in tandem: Related work includes:


Significant milestones in the development and adoption of ebXML include:

September 1999   
United Nations and OASIS Join Forces to Produce Global XML Framework for Electronic Business

December 1999
Organizations from Around the World Gather to Launch ebXML

March 2000
ebXML Initiative Releases First Technical Specifications for Public Comment

May 2000
ebXML Moves Forward on Defining Global Electronic Business Infrastructure

August 2000
ebXML Showcases Dynamic Trading Network

September 2000
ebXML Sets Standards for Electronic Trading Partner Agreements
850,000 Companies Select ebXML for New Global Commerce Internet Protocol

February 2001
ebXML Integrates SOAP Into Messaging Services Specification
ebXML Technical Architecture Specification Approved

April 2001
ebXML Messaging Services Specification Gains RosettaNet Support

May 2001
ebXML Approved: UN/CEFACT and OASIS Deliver on 18-Month Initiative

June 2001
OASIS Forms ebXML Technical Committees

July 2001
UN/CEFACT Forms e-Business Transition Ad Hoc Working Group

May 2002
ebXML Registry Approved as OASIS Standards

September 2002
ebXML Messaging Service Specification Approved As OASIS Standard

December 2002
ebXML Collaboration Protocol Profile and Agreement Ratified as OASIS Standard

June 2003
UN/CEFACT Plenary Endorses Latest ebXML Specifications

October 2003
ebXML Business Process Specification Advances Within OASIS

March 2004
ISO Approves ebXML OASIS Standards

April 2004
OASIS Members Advance Service Oriented Architecture Based on ebXML and Web Services

10 May 2004
UN/CEFACT and OASIS Cooperate to Strengthen Work on ebXML


Review answers to the frequently asked questions below. Post new questions and additional comments at the FAQ Forum. See also: ebBP FAQ, ebCPPA FAQ, ebMS FAQ, and Registry FAQ.

Are there royalty fees for the use of ebXML?

OASIS provides ebXML specifications free of charge. There are no royalties or fees associated with the use of the ebXML specifications. Openness of the ebXML specifications is a requirement in order to encourage adoption.

How does ebXML address the needs of the small-medium size enterprises?

ebXML's requirements begin with the objective to promote the use of shrink-wrapped, plug-and-play software to support its messages. By keeping that focus paramount, as well as taking advantage of the economies of scale presented by the Internet, ebXML's design and technical architecture remain within the reach of smaller businesses.

How does ebXML affect an existing IT infrastructure?

If a company does not yet exchange electronic business data, ebXML means making the connections to send and receive these messages, authenticating other parties, editing the contents of the messages, and mapping the data to internal systems. If a company already uses EDI or other business data exchange protocols, it may have already established these facilities but may still need to write new routines for ebXML messages. Packaged software often makes these functions transparent to end-users.

How does ebXML impact current EDI investments?

Companies with systems set up for business data exchange will probably have fewer changes in business processes than those starting from scratch. ebXML builds on the lessons learned from EDI, particularly the need to identify trading partners and messages and account for all message traffic. The best practices established for effective EDI apply to ebXML. ebXML also identifies common data objects, called core components, that allow companies to interchange standard EDI data with XML vocabularies compliant with the ebXML specifications.

Is ebXML just for B2B, or can it be applied to business-to-consumer trading?

ebXML supports messages and services among businesses as well as between businesses and consumers. For business-to-consumer exchanges, however, the specifications define only the services and architecture on the business end, not customer screens or interactions.

What development environments does ebXML support?

ebXML was designed to be independent of equipment, software platforms or communication networks. As long as a system supports standard Internet transport protocols and XML, it should also support ebXML.

Who is using ebXML?

ebXML is being used around the globe by a wide variety of industries. Review (and add to) the list of deployments and learn more about available case studies.

Why ebXML?

ebXML supports electronic interchange by parties in a peer-to-peer relationship when the interchange crosses domains of control. The specifications enable the composition of distinct components that can be used individually, together with the other specifications in the framework, or with other emerging technologies to accomplish a larger activity or business goal.

Five capabilities were identified as part of the initial objective for ebXML, and remain important to conduct electronic trading relationships among business parties. They are:

  • Well-understood business semantics and guiding principles
  • Framework and operational semantics for assembling business transactions and complex activities
  • A secure and reliable transport
  • Defined framework for publishing, discovery and availability of needed artifacts and services
  • Framework to configure a contract between business parties, and to associate or link the business process with the underlying transport