With dozens of horizontal and vertical initiatives sprouting from XML, the RosettaNet consortium is trying to help developers navigate through the tangle of overlapping and sometimes competing efforts.
Officials with RosettaNet, a non-profit group focused on Extensible Markup Language specifications for IT, electronic components and semiconductor manufacturing industries, launched an effort last week to bring together XML efforts.
The group has come up with a nine-layer model to identify horizontal efforts, such as a universal registry and repository structure, and vertical efforts, such as supply chain business processes.
The goal is to reduce the confusion and duplication of efforts.
"Its not fatal if multiple standards exist ... but ideally we will do everything we can to encourage convergence to one," said Jennifer Hamilton, CEO of RosettaNet, in Santa Ana, Calif.
Hamilton praised the decision in February of the two groups overseeing ebXML (electronic business XML) and SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) to integrate SOAP into the broader ebXML effort and said she hopes similar agreements will follow.
RosettaNet is trying to lead by example, announcing plans to support the ebXML messaging service specification in future versions of the RosettaNet Implementation Framework. It also will register 83 of its own business process standards with the multivendor Universal Description, Discovery and Integration initiative.
Developers said RosettaNets effort, if successful, will help simplify their jobs. "It would be phenomenal," said Sandra Stephens, a Web designer and developer with Legerity Inc., in Austin, Texas, who is just starting to investigate XML. "There is a lot of conflicting information out there. If I exposed myself to all of it, my head would just be spinning."
Derek Clayton, a software developer with ICE Inc., in Toronto, said that he hasnt had trouble wading through the XML specifications but that encouraging groups and vendors to reduce competing efforts will help.
"Theres already too much of that going on," said Clayton, citing Microsoft Corp.s work on SOAP and other work on XML remote procedure calls as an example. "Essentially, we have competing technologies that do the same thing."
However, Susan Lally, vice president of engineering with OpenTable Inc., said she believes users will continue to write their own versions of XML specific to their needs and rely on translators to iron out differences.
"Standards work is slow by nature," said Lally, in San Francisco. "If youre delivering software to market now, standards dont move in Internet time."