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ebXML RegRep v4.0 approved

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Earlier this week OASIS announced that version 4.0 of the ebXML Registry and Repository (RegRep) specification has been approved as a standard.

We are pleased to announce that OASIS ebXML RegRep Version 4.0 has been approved by the membership as an OASIS Standard [1].

The call to vote was announced on 11 January 2012 [2] and closed 25 January 2012. A minimum of 45 affirmative votes were needed in order to win approval. The finally vote tally was 61.

OASIS ebXML RegRep V4.0 [3] defines the service interfaces, protocols and information model for an integrated registry and repository. The repository stores digital content while the registry stores metadata that describes the content in the repository. RegRep is an open specification for software that manages diverse content such as documents, images, services, devices, assets, schemas, WSDL, ontologies, records. Statements of Use for RegRep V4.0 were received from MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, Wellfleet Software and NOAA. More information on OASIS ebXML RegRep v4.0 and the TC generally can be found on the TCs web page at

Though with less than 21% of members voting to approve and with the future of other registry standard, UDDI, in doubt, it remains to be seen as to whether or not this will see much uptake beyond the initial adopters. There was a time when ebXML had the active support from the likes of IBM and HP, and other standards efforts such as those around Web Services often looked to show relevance with it. But does ebXML have relevance today in the new Cloud world where Web Services appear to be on the wane and REST is a standard part of developer's vernacular? Certainly the existing ebXML users and developers are continuing to find use cases for it beyond those that were thought about when it was started in 1999 and specifically in the Cloud domain:

AS4, an OASIS B2B messaging standard, was finalized by the OASIS ebXML Messaging Services (ebMS) Technical Committee. The intent and purpose of the development of AS4 was to define a simplified Conformance Profile of the ebMS v3.0 specification that would serve as a B2B on-ramp for Web Services document exchange. [...] In addition to enabling interoperability for technologies such as cloud computing, AS4 is an emerging Internet messaging protocol that provides a standardized method for the secure and document-agnostic exchange of B2B payloads using Web Services from any location, anywhere in the world.

And the standards committee has embraced REST within the work that they have been doing. For instance the ebXML Registry REST Steering Committee:

[...] the REST sub-committee will develop a specification document to allow implementers to develop a complimentary optional REST-based interface for Registry (the REST support will follow the REST principles). This will not replace the existing interface - but augment the access methods that Registry can support based on the existing RIM and APIs. The SC will first formalize the scope and use cases to be addressed using REST-based interfacing and then develop formal mechanisms and specification details to implement that.

In some ways ebXML is the Mark Twain of the industry, with reports of its death happening time and time again. Although not necessarily a good way to judge relevance, as shown in 2009 Google Trends indicated a significant drop:

ebXML has been in a long downward spiral for the last 4 years, and through that time its relevance seems to have diminished by a factor of 25.

Even in 2005 people were praising its approach but casting doubt over its relevance and adoption:

 This is a good standard, with growing interest from those doing B2B automation. ebXML provides just enough good technology to make it useful in the real world, without over-hyping its capabilities, thus disappointing its implementers.

Now we know what ebXML is, and it's power. It's also surprising to me to see how slow ebXML is finding it's way into larger organizations, even those looking to replace EDI with something much more dynamic and process-oriented. It may be another case where the best technology, or standard, does not always win.

Yet ebXML work continues today and as can be seen by the current vote to adopt the latest RegRep there are definitely those companies and organisations that are using it, such as MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, Wellfleet Software and NOAA. But the question remains: is ebXML as relevant today as it was over 20 years ago and does it have a role in the latest wave ... Cloud?

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Community comments

  • Re: ebXML RegRep v4.0 approved

    by Farrukh Najmi,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Hi Mark,

    Thank you for sharing this news and for your support and that of Red Hat in the standards approval ballot for ebXML RegRep 4 specification.

    As co-chair and member of ebXML Registry TC I wanted to share a few comments on your post.

    For an OASIS standard to get 21% YES votes in its approval ballot is not at all reflective of adoption, interest or success. Consider as an example, Open Document Format specification (basis for Libre Office, Open Office etc.). By any measure this is a broadly used specification that is quite successful and has much interest. It too got only 21% YES votes in its approval ballot:

    A low voter turn out at OASIS can be for many other reasons and is an issue that OASIS is working to address.

    ebXML RegRep specification has had a REST interface version 3 in since 2005. In this latest version 4 the REST interface has been simplified and improved.
    The real value of ebXML RegRep standard is in its ability to manage all different kinds of content using a simple and standard information model and protocol while allowing for content-specific management features such as validation, cataloging, discovery, alerting, access control. These capabilities are provided by two simple interfaces (one for query and one for create/update/delete) which may be accessed via SOAP or REST bindings.

    Another popular feature of the specification is its ability to federate across multiple data stores and allow seamless and secure searching across the federated data as if it were a single data store. The federation feature is being used in the NextGen Network Enabled Weather program of the US Federation Aviation Administration to integrate information about weather related datasets and services from multiple sources including NOAA's National Weather Service.

    After approval of ebXML RegRep 4 the ebXML Registry TC plans to focus on approval of a set of extension profile specifications for ebXML RegRep 4. Each of these specifications will define how ebXML RegRep may be used to manage a specific type of content. Initially we plan to focus on XML Schema, WSDL, OWL, GML (Spatio-temporal).

    In any one wishes to contribute to our work within the ebXML Registry TC at OASIS or would like to explore the adoption of ebXML RegRep 4 in their organization then please contact me at farrukh(at)wellfleetsoftware(dot)com or another member of the RegRep TC. Thank you.

    Kind Regards,
    Farrukh Najmi
    Co-chair: OASIS ebXML Registry TC
    CTO: Wellfleet Software

  • Re: ebXML RegRep v4.0 approved

    by Farrukh Najmi,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    Also, here is a link to the ebXML RegRep Wiki that has a lot of additional information on the recently approved ebXML RegRep 4 standard:

    ebXML RegRep Wiki:

    The RegRep TC will keep this page updated with latest information on their work.

    Kind Regards,
    Farrukh Najmi
    Co-chair: OASIS ebXML Registry TC
    CTO: Wellfleet Software

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