eXtensible Markup Language (XML)

The Promise of XML

The eXtensible Markup Language (XML) is a user-defined structure to represent data. It is used in such varied applications as web publishing, document publishing, and data applications such as database management and data transfer.

The beauty of XML, according to its developers, is in its flexibility. After the user defines the data any way they wish, any other user who wants to use that format could easily incorporate it into their system. They need only to be able to accept the Document Type Definition (DTD), which is the syntax describing the structure of documents or files being transferred.

With the X12 standard traditional to EDI transactions, the syntax is rigidly defined. Each party maintains a database of structure definitions in order to parse, or read, the data. In this way the data can be transmitted at a minimal file size. With XML the receiver does not need to have the structure databased because the syntax can also be attached with the data, which any XML software should be able to parse accordingly. But this is an inefficient process analogous to using a phrasebook to communicate in a foreign country.

Data size can increase tremendously because of XML tags, and if the DTD is enclosed in the document the size can increase even more. This size increase translates into higher data transmission costs. An alternate solution to enclosing the DTD in a document is to set up a web or FTP server from which trading partners may retrieve the DTD, but this involves costs to set up such a server.

XML's flexibility is praiseworthy, but its possible downsides include large file sizes with the resulting transmission costs, and the typically high costs of XML software.

DIcentral's XML Solutions

DIcentral's hosted services address the latter problem by making XML mapping and translation easily accessible to enterprise companies and affordable for small and mid-market businesses. We enable customers to migrate their data from any format to any XML format, without the investment or upgrade costs of typical XML software.

For those customers interested in mapping from X12 to XML, all that is required is to define their DTD and send it to DIcentral where we do the mapping from one format to another before transmission to their trading partners. We can even assist in designing the DTD.

DIcentral works closely with customers at every step of the process. Part of our philosophy of customer satisfaction is to advise them of the trade-off values associated with XML in order to help them make informed decisions. What data transfer method customers choose, we're prepared to make the connections quick, accurate, and cost-effective.

 

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