January 24, 2000
Project will develop industry-specific extensions to boost E-commerce
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The project is similar to other industry-specific XML initiatives, such as the Financial Products Markup Language being spearheaded by J.P. Morgan and PricewaterhouseCoopers. SML's goal is to build steel-industry-specific data formats, such as the chemical makeup, weight, and dimensions, using XML specifications.
If steel companies standardize on SML, it could boost E-commerce in the industry by making it easier to import data into steel buyers' and sellers' legacy applications and inventory databases from transactions conducted in online exchanges, such as E-Steel and MetalSite. "Integration with existing systems is the most important thing in making E-commerce real," says Tom Costello, chief technology officer of E-Steel. "XML is the de facto Internet communications protocol, so it makes sense to use it for integration within our industry."
Dofasco Inc., a steelmaker in Hamilton, Ontario, will be the first E-Steel member to incorporate SML, although E-Steel expects to unveil additional adopters soon. E-Steel members include about 50 steel mills and hundreds of steel buyers, including General Electric Co.
Initiatives such as SML are vital to maintaining XML's momentum, says Charles Allen, WebMethods' co-founder and VP of product marketing. "These standards initiatives succeed because they're driven by individual user organizations or industry marketplaces, not by technology vendors," Allen says. "XML wasn't developed specifically for business-to-business commerce, but it arrived when the problem of data exchange across industries rose to the forefront because of the Web.
It's a natural fit."
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