Coordination and Exchange of XML Catalog Data in B2B
The transmission of electronic product catalogs using e-business standards belongs to the first and furthest common applications of XML in B2B e-commerce. Despite the application of standardized catalog formats (e.g. cXML, xCBL) often a relevant amount of coordination and communication between the catalog-producing and catalog-importing companies is still necessary. If single standards offer degrees of freedom or their specifications contain interpretation clearance, errors in catalog exchange can occur. This aspect is of a special importance, since thereby someone has to intervene in the exchange process manually; this contradicts the automation paradigm of e-business. With consideration of the import errors, catalog creation and catalog import must be repeated, until the catalog is regarded as completely valid by the target system. In consequence the exchange processes are little automated and costly as well as time-intensive. This paper discusses the design of catalog data exchange and suggests a three-stage improvement concept. Its basis is a close look at current practice in catalog exchange and data characteristics that determine the exchange processes. Our approach addresses the field of e-business standardization, since commercial XML standards have already started forming a de-facto data infrastructure for e-business in general. Therefore we will analyze several catalog standards and ask what mechanisms they provide to design and implement efficient exchange processes.
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