Alexandria, Va., July 23, 2002 -- ANSI's Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12 has released for public comment a design approach for constructing electronic business messages using eXtensible Markup Language (XML). This document, ASC X12 Reference Model for XML Design, proposes features of XML to use in e-business messages, and offers design principles for organizing business data into modularly flexible messages using XML.

ASC X12 is accepting comments on the draft ASC X12 Reference Model for XML Design--available for download at --August 2, 2002.

"This reference model provides guidelines for ASC X12 in its standards work, but our team of technical specialists and business experts wrote it as well for companies and industries seeking guidance on writing electronic business messages," said Mike Rawlins of Rawlins EC Consulting who chaired the group that prepared the report. "The document provides for structure and stability in business messages, but also flexibility to meet the complexity of business and changing business conditions."

With numerous innovations, ASC X12's reference model takes into consideration existing roadblocks to EDI implementation and standards development, new technologies, requirements defined by industry groups developing XML specifications, small-to-medium-sized company requirements, and the general marketplace. Some of the core benefits of the reference model include:

  • The Document Assembly Model, which enables users to take reusable components that can then be assimilated into a new document

  • The Granularity Model, which turns subjective decisions in EDI into clear content decisions for both structure and semantic reuse

  • Modular flexibility and designed autonomy, which provide both the ability to achieve application integration for industry-specific application and flexibility to achieve cross-industry solutions and interoperability. This feature also allows users to include proprietary modules that can provide both speed to market and cross-industry interoperability.

  • Semantically specific standards, eliminating the EDI requirement for supplementary "how to implement" bilateral agreements

Peter D. Pruyne of SysCom Strategies and chair of the X12 subcommittee on communications and controls that oversees the working group said, "The reference model offers companies a way to reuse their business data across different electronic documents in their own industries, yet still provides for interoperability across industries." Pruyne added, "This group succeeded in taking the best of recent e-business standards based on XML while still building on the two decades of business experience accumulated by EDI practitioners."

The reference model is built on the Electronic Business XML (ebXML) standards developed by OASIS and UN/CEFACT, specifically the specifications on semantic interoperability called core components. ASC X12 is also collaborating with OASIS's Universal Business Language Technical Committee that is developing XML schemas for standard business messages.

About ASC X12
The Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) X12, accredited by the American National Standards Institute and comprised of cross-industry representation, develops robust e-business exchange specifications and EDI standards that interact with a multitude of e-commerce technologies and serve as the premier tool for integrating electronic applications. Through standards setting and active participation in emerging and technically relevant initiatives, ASC X12 facilitates the effective exchange of electronic information. Propelling global e-business, ASC X12 serves as the entry point for the United States into the United Nations/Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (UN/EDIFACT), an international standard relating to the exchange of trade goods and services. To learn more about ASC X12, visit or call 703-837-6155.