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Universal Business Language (UBL)

Definition - What does Universal Business Language (UBL) mean?

A universal business language (UBL) is a royalty free library of standard XML electronic business documents, first released in 2004. It promotes global use of e-commerce documents conforming to government regulations and specific industry criteria. It works among multiple domain service oriented architectures offering a simple way for businesses to compete in the international e-commerce community.

Techopedia explains Universal Business Language (UBL)

UBL provides a universally understood and recognized commercial syntax enabling binding business documents, thus permitting them to operate with a standard business framework. It was designed in an open and accountable vendor neutral OASIS technical committee that plugs directly into legal, auditing and existing business.

UBL records management practices with minimum disruption and eliminates re-keying data into fax and paper based supply chains. They target vendors for off-the-shelf business software products. It has an added advantage of being available freely to all without any licensing fees.

UML (unified modeling language) provides a library of XML schemas, which are reusable, modular and extensible in XML. They also provide schemas for common business documents. UML libraries are based on conceptual model of information components called business information entities. They are further assembled into document models that are transformed following the UBL naming and design rules. UBL conceptual model is based on modeling systems such as entity/relationship modeling and the unified modeling language.

The hub format of the UBL is well suited to the public sector. A single adapter interfaces all suppliers to a common consumer and vice versa. It also interfaces all businesses to tax authorities, custom agents, transporters and accountants. UBL covers the most common business forms- trading cycle from order through invoices between buyers and sellers. It includes specifications for order, order response, order cancellation, shipping notice, receipt and invoice. Certain business concepts serve as the building blocks for these specifications and are referred to as basic business information entities, expressed as core component type in a UBL schema.

UBL version 2.0 was approved in October 2006 and has its root in EDI standards. It’s the sixth generation UML standard. It includes around 31 document types within it. These include:

  • catalog Request

  • catalog

  • catalog item specification update

  • catalog deletion

  • catalog pricing update

  • request for quotation

  • quotation

  • order

  • order response

  • order response simple

  • order change

  • order cancellation

  • dispatch advice

  • receipt advice

  • invoice

These documents and many others with added libraries support various business processes. Customers and suppliers are the two main key elements involved in the supply chain process. However, there are also supplementary roles provided by different parties.


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