What is ebBP?
The OASIS ebBP Standard is a technical business process specification. It defines a standard language so that business systems can be configured to support the execution of business collaborations between partners or collaborating parties rather than the processing accomplished from the perspective of one business partner. The formal designation has been eBusiness Extensible Markup Language (ebXML) Business Process Specification Schema (BPSS). It is more commonly known as ebBP (after the OASIS ebXML Business Process Technical Committee).
What is ebXML?
ebXML is the Electronic Business Extensible Markup Language. It is a set of specifications in a framework intended to support electronic interchange by parties in a peer-to-peer relationship when the interchange crosses domains of control. The specifications have been or are being defined by OASIS and UN/CEFACT. The ebXML framework enables the composition of distinct components that can be used individually, together with the other specifications in the framework, or with other emerging technologies to accomplish a larger activity or business goal. The initial objective of ebXML was to provide in a framework the necessary components to enable electronic business by trading partners.
Five capabilities were identified as part of the initial objective for ebXML, and remain important to conduct electronic trading relationships among business parties. They are:
- Well-understood business semantics and guiding principles
- Framework and operational semantics for assembling business transactions and complex activities
- A secure and reliable transport
- Defined framework for publishing, discovery and availability of needed artifacts and services
- Framework to configure a contract between business parties, and to associate or link the business process with the underlying transport
For each of these capabilities there are now one or more enabling technologies that contribute to conducting eBusiness. Each capability has an ebXML component specification (many of which are now standards). Several of these standards have been promoted to ISO status (15000 series 1-5) or are planned soon. Each specification continues to evolve and be enriched while maintaining its ability to be used as part of the ebXML framework, used as a standalone specification, or in conjunction with other emerging technologies. They are:
- Core Components (CC) — development under aegis of UN/CEFACT
- ebXML Business Process Specification Schema (BPSS or ebBP) — being developed by OASIS
- ebXML Messaging Service (ebMS) — being developed by OASIS
- ebXML Registry Services and Registry Information Model (ebRS/ebRIM) — being developed by OASIS
- Collaboration Protocol Profile and Agreements (CPP/A) — being developed by OASIS
What is the current status of the ebXML framework?
The component specifications that comprise the original framework continue to be developed. The original intent of being able to use each specification as part of the framework, alone, or in conjunction with other emerging technologies continues. At the present time the specification of each component is:
Core Components Technical Specification part 8 of ebXML Technical Framework V2.0.1
- ebBP V2.0.4 (approved as an OASIS Standard in December 2006)
- ebXML Messaging Service V3 (in OASIS approval process moving to Committee Specification and OASIS standard)
- ebXML Registry Services V3.0
- ebXML Registry Information Model V3.0
- ebXML CPPA V2
The current reality is that these technologies have become a proving ground for the integration of heterogeneous components from the original set of ebXML specifications and emerging technologies particularly WS-Security, WS-Addressing, profiles within WS-I and others. This is an evolution of the original intent of the first set of specifications, but is consistent with the objective of enabling electronic business. At the heart of the objective of enabling electronic business is the ability to compose and manage electronic business collaborations and choreography, which is the business process component.
What is an ebBP definition?
A business process definition created using the semantics and syntax provided in the ebBP technical specification is referred to as an ebBP definition. ebBP definitions describe interoperable business processes that allow business partners, or collaborating parties, to cooperate and achieve a given business goal. It contains the specification of the Business Transaction, the choreography for using the Business Transaction(s) that comprise a Business Collaboration, and the Business Collaborations themselves. An ebBP definition is a machine computable and interpretable specification. The software component that manages these activities on behalf of a business partner is termed a Business Service Interface (BSI).
What is a Business Transaction?
A Business Transaction is realized as Business Document Flows between Requesting and Responding parties performing roles. A Business Transaction is a specialized protocol used to achieve and support enforceable transaction semantics and state alignment between collaborating parties. The patterns listed in the technical specification provide semantic guidance, and options for a Business Transaction. One or more Business Signals can be exchanged as part of a Business Transaction to ensure state alignment of the respective parties.
What is a Business Signal?
Business signals have a specific business purpose and are separate from lower protocol and transport signals. One or more Business Signals can be exchanged as part of a Business Transaction to ensure state alignment between both parties. Evaluation of business signals enable the state of a Business Collaboration to be explicitly calculated at run time. The ebBP technical specification provides both the structure and choreography of Business Signals, including allowing for user defined signals.
What function does a Business Signal provide?
A Business Signal is computable. This provides the collaborating parties with a mutual understanding of the business activity. This function allows the parties to know if their expectations in a Business Transaction are realized. This is state alignment, and is important in order for the ebBP specification to have commercial viability. The ebBP specification provides the ability to conduct intended transactions if that is the intent of the collaborating parties.
What is Business Collaboration?
A Business Collaboration is a set of roles interacting through a set of choreographed Business Transactions by exchanging Business Documents. A Business Collaboration is defined by the parties in the collaboration; it can be simple or complex, it can include expected and unexpected (but contingent) actions and the collaboration can allow for other than eBusiness options. The ebBP technical specification is used to specify the business process parameters to configure the Business Service Interface (BSI) needed to execute and to monitor the collaborations, including the capability to transition to human interactions or decisions that may be important to eBusiness activity, e.g. a phone call.
When is the ebBP technical specification used?
The ebBP technical specification can be used to specify any shared collaboration. The specification may be effectively used with the other specifications in the ebXML framework, and with other technologies, for example when Web Services software components are being specified to execute Business Collaborations. Or, the ebBP business semantics and syntax are well-suited to enable definition of modular process building blocks that are combined in complex collaboration activities. The ebBP technical specification is also used to specify the business process related configuration parameters for configuring a software component to execute and monitor the collaborations.
How is the ebBP technical specification used?
The ebBP technical specification provides the structure and semantics for ebBP process definitions. The goal of the ebBP technical specification is to provide the bridge between eBusiness process modeling and the execution of eBusiness software components.
All the parameters of the ebBP definition are intended to be specified at design time or, where applicable, acquired at deployment or runtime. This can be done by creating a business process and information model although modeling is optional. The ebBP definition expresses the expectations of the collaborating parties or business partners and provides the mechanisms to support state alignment. The ebBP technical specification provides the capability to leverage international business transaction patterns and the operational semantics that enable their use; and, well defined business signals to compute state alignment. The ebBP definition and a CPA may be used to configure a BSI.
What is included in the ebBP Version 2.0.X series?
The ebBP Versions 2.0.X includes normative documents, and non normative examples and artifacts to better inform users. The approved standard is Version 2.0.4. The documents and artifacts included are:
- the technical specification and designated appendices
- the core ebBP schema and documentation
- the standard Business Signal schema and documentation
- description of the Business Service Interface
- other important guidance including the pattern matrices included in the specification
- transformation functions for v1.05 => 2.0.1
- CPA — ebBP mapping
- a glossary
- the Public Review comments
- other relevant use cases and guidelines
- all examples
What are the major features and capabilities that have been added or significantly expanded in the ebBP v2.0.X series?
- The six business transaction patterns specified by the UN/CEFACT Modeling Methodology (UMM Revision 10, Chapters 8 & 9) for business messaging exchanges have been further articulated. Concrete parameters have more fully defined and operational semantic spelled out. These six patterns could enable the majority of business transactions in eBusiness or other shared collaborations. In addition, an extensible pattern has been specified to enable anticipated industry or partner specific business transactions. This pattern is the Data Exchange pattern.
- Enabled the use of hybrid, ebXML or Web Services in the business message exchange. Done by creating an Operational Mapping for the business messages and signals used in the business transaction patterns to abstract operations used in the WSDL message exchange patterns.
- Enable an ebBP definition to reference a set of logical Business Documents. Logical business documents can be specified from multiple sources or namespaces. The actual Business Document can be realized by using external specifications to include ebXML CC and Universal Business Language (UBL) Small Business Subset (SBS), http://docs.oasis-open.org/ubl/cs-UBL-1.0-SBS-1.0/universal-business-process-1.0-ebBP Domain specific business documents can also be defined.
- Business partners can assume different roles throughout the collaboration. These roles can be attached to the Business Collaboration definition as it is composed so as to understand how the role change enables the business message exchange in a business transaction whether it is binary or has multiple parties. These expanded role binding capabilities support communities such as RosettaNet.
- A status visibility function has been provided. This allows third parties to be visible in a business transaction although they do not have a first class role in the business transaction but their activities are important to one of the collaborating (first class) parties.
- Use of semantic information to support the capability to take a generic business process and specialize it for a specific use.
- Improved linking constructs and transition capabilities to support the process definition as they are composed.
What is the status of ebBP?
ebBP v 2.0.4 has been approved as an OASIS Standard. The OASIS eBusiness Business Process Technical Committee plans to promote the ebBP to ISO 15000 status as soon as practical while encouraging and promoting adoption. Future collaboration with UN/CEFACT and Object Management Group (OMG) is anticipated.
Errata are included as non normative artifacts and found on the public web site: http://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=ebxml-bp.
What known user communities are using or interested in ebBP?
- Local government
- High technology
- Health care
- Financial Services
- Agencies/departments of National Governments
Are there tools that use ebBP?
Yes, there is an open source editor, freebxmlbp, which was developed at Middle East Technical University (METU). The tool is under development with an initial user's guide recently circulated; the tool is available at: http://sourceforge.net/projects/freebxmlbp (http://sourceforge.net/cvs/?group_id=154705).
How does ebBP relate to BPSS?
Briefly and simply, ebBP is a short name, or alias, for the technical specification that realizes business collaboration, ebXML BPSS. They are one and the same. The objective is to define business processes in a standard way to allow interoperability between systems, organizations, business partners and collaborating parties. This will enable eBusiness. Labeling the latest and more substantive version ebBP focuses on the objective rather than the mechanism for achieving the objective which is the technical specification.
 Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS)
 United Nations Center for Trade Facilitation and eBusiness (UN/CEFACT)
 Web Services-Interoperability Consortium (WS-I)