However, this model is not the most convenient and efficient for one of tABC Books’ biggest customers — Power Books — a large, regional book distributor that purchases thousands of titles several times a year, depending on seasonal demand. Until recently, Power Books would fax purchase orders to ABC Books. The order-processing department at ABC Books would then verify the price and availability for the items ordered. If a book was out of stock or if the price or details of a book had changed since the last catalogue was published, Power Books would be notified over the phone. Afterwards, someone would have to re-enter the order details from the faxed copy into the order-entry system. Power Books has now implemented a new, automated inventory management system. In the future, this system will generate and send purchase orders encoded in XML directly to ABC Books’ order- processing application once a title goes below its re-order level. At its end, ABC Books has to enable its order-entry system to process incoming orders in XML, not just in HTML. This example demonstrates how XML is used to exchange data between different e-commerce systems, similar to the situation described above. Connecting systems together saves unnecessary recapture and re-entry of data as information is exchanged between two disparate applications. This leads to fewer errors and, hence, a more streamlined business process. This, in turn, shortens the turnaround time on transactions and allows businesses to be more competitive.
Unit 8 17 XML technologies adapted XML is just a data-definition language. It is not a complete integration solution in itself. Before businesses can connect their systems using XML, they must first agree on a common data format. Companies can use XML Schemas to define their data formats to their business partners in an exact and unambiguous manner. XML documents can then be parsed and checked against an XML Schema for conformance by the computer applications which process them. However, it is impossible to expect all businesses to agree on a common data definition and structure for all the types of transactions they may wish to conduct using XML. For example, ABC Books and Power Books may use different vocabulary or even different sets of fields in their purchase orders. They may use different field names (e.g. ‘PO_Date’ vs ‘Purchase_Date’) or different terms (e.g. ‘account’ vs ‘cost centre’). How can their computer systems be successfully integrated when they have incompatible definitions of a purchase order? The next best thing is to allow dynamic translation of XML documents from one format to another, in the same way that humans who do not share a common language are able to communicate through simultaneous translation. We’ll discuss how XML translation can be accomplished using XSLT and an XSLT processor.
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- Spring '18