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XML and eCommerce

BASDA, the Business and Accounting Software Developers Association, have defined XML schemas for Purchase Orders and Invoices, the two most common business documents. They are encouraging their member companies to support these schemas, by adding import and export filters to their software to read and write invoices and POs encoded using XML. This is a powerful idea, and could potentially save companies enormous amounts of time and money in printing, postage, data entry and error correction costs.

Although many (200+) major accounting software developers are members of BASDA, only 13 companies, including TAS Books, Exchequer Software, and CODA, have so far developed accredited BASDA-compliant filters. BASDA is working on a number of other XML-based initiatives, including a Web Shopping Cart XML schema to allow companies transmit orders from their websites directly into their back-office systems.

BASDA eBIS-XML Demonstration

The links below require MS-IE 5.x to view the XML files. View the text version if using a non-XML-aware browser.

  1. Raw XML Representation of Invoice, text version
  2. HTML version of invoice, created using XSLT, XML invoice dynamically presented using old MS XSLT
  3. Raw XML Representation of PO, text version
  4. HTML version of PO, created using XSLT, XML PO dynamically presented using old MS XSLT

Getting the BASDA Schemas

The schemas are downloadable free from the BASDA website, and also from Microsofts' Biztalk site http://www.biztalk.org/ (registration is required, look for 'eBIS' in the Library area).

BASDA have also defined XSLT stylesheets that can be used with MS-IE 5.x to present XML-encoded POs and invoices directly in the browser. This means that companies could receive a BASDA invoice or PO by email, and even if their accounting software didn't support it, they could view the document by simply opening it in the browser, and either re-key or cut and paste the content into their accounting package.

Unfortunately the XSLT stylesheets use an IE-specific version of XSLT, rather than the full W3C XSLT 1.0 Recommendation, but they can be easily updated. Equally unfortunately, MS-IE 5.0 and MS-IE5.5 don't support XSLT 1.0 either, although they can be upgraded using MSXML 3.0.

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