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cXML FAQ

  1. What is cXML?
    Beginning in February 1999, the cXML standard has been available for all to use. The details of its license agreement are found at http://www.cXML.org/license.cfm.

    cXML is very different from most other electronic business protocols. cXML is a streamlined protocol intended for consistent communication of business documents between procurement applications, e-commerce hubs and suppliers. The protocol does not include the full breadth of interactions some parties may wish to communicate. However, through the use of Extrinsic elements and newly-defined domains for various identifiers, it is easily expanded by such applications. This expansion is the limit of point-to-point configurations necessary for communication.

    The current standard includes documents for setup (company details and transaction profiles), catalogue content, application integration (including the widely-used PunchOut feature), original, change and delete purchase orders and responses to all of these requests, order confirmation and ship notice documents (cXML analogues of EDI 855 and 856 transactions) and new invoice documents.

  2. What are the benefits of cXML?
    • Very easy to implement automated order receipt, fulfillment updates and catalogue transport
    • Many sell-side solutions come with the protocol out of the box.
    • cXML is the most widely adopted B2B protocol
    • cXML is only way you can implement PunchOut today.
    • Extensible: If your buyer relationships require more information than cXML supports intrinsically, that data may still be sent end-to-end.
    • Leverages XML, which is the most robust language for describing information
    • cXML is the only B2B XML standard that leaves much of the syntax from EDI behind.


  3. What document types does cXML support?
    cXML v1.2 supports catalogue content and supplier descriptions, PunchOut (of a few varieties), Master Agreement, Purchase Order (create, edit and delete), Order Confirmation, Ship Notice, Invoice and various additional synchronization and integration transactions.

  4. What do you mean by “PunchOut”?
    PunchOut is not a link to a web site. PunchOut is an easy-to-implement protocol for interactive sessions managed across the Internet. PunchOut is a communication from one application to another, achieved through a dialog of real-time, synchronous cXML messages, which support user interaction at a remote site. It is the best way to manage user sessions distributed across web applications.

    This protocol is most commonly used today in the form of Procurement PunchOut, which specifically supports interactions between a procurement application and a supplier’s eCommerce web site and possibly includes an intermediary for authentication and version matching. Procurement PunchOut describes the "traditional" PunchOut scenarios that use the regular PunchOut Setup Request and PunchOut Setup Response. The PunchOut session is initiated with a PunchOutSetupRequest and terminates with a posting of a PunchOutOrderMessage, which contains the initiating transaction’s cookie and a shopping cart or “quote”.

  5. Is cXML a proprietary DTD?
    cXML is published based on the input of many companies. cXML is a protocol that is published for free on the Internet along with its DTD. It is open to all for their use without restrictions apart from publications of modifications and naming that new protocol. Essentially, everyone is free to use cXML with any and all modifications as long as they don't publish their own standard and call it "cXML".

  6. Is cXML contained completely in a single DTD?
    cXML is now spread across a number of DTD files. The primary transactions are contained in cXML.dtd; Confirmation and Ship Notice transactions are in Fulfill.dtd and the new InvoiceDetail transaction is in InvoiceDetail.dtd. All three have associated *.zip files containing the DTD for viewing, the constituent module files (*.mod), many XML example files and (in some cases) *.jpg files containing diagrams of the transactions. Only the cXML.zip file contains additional documentation (the cXMLUsersGuide.pdf file) describing the entire standard. This additional file is not updated as frequently as the DTD files and may not reflect every change noted in the Release Notes.

    Further, every minor version corresponds to a separate directory in the http://xml.cXML.org/schemas/cXML/… tree. Once a new directory is created, its content (particularly the DTD files) will never change.

  7. How can I receive drafts of new versions of the cXML specifications?
    cXML.org is working with other companies on the cXML protocol. Currently, there is no formalized community for cXML users. However, you can participate by providing comments and suggestions for the protocol (including new transactions) to comments@cXML.org.

  8. Where is the DTD for cXML version 1.1.009 (for example)?
    The 1.1.009 DTD file is available at http://xml.cXML.org/schemas/cXML/1.1.009/cXML.dtd. All other versions are also available from similarly constructed locations on the http://xml.cXML.org/ site. (Note that this site does not have a useful home page.)

  9. How can I access the latest version of cXML?
    The current version of cXML is 1.2.025 . The correct SYSTEM identifier for that version is http://xml.cXML.org/schemas/cXML/1.2.025/cXML.dtd. Please check this site or its Downloads page for future revisions to the specification.

  10. How can I submit suggestions for new versions of cXML?
    The organization behind the cXML standard is relatively informal, relying on comments and participation from any individuals or companies with suggestions. Many companies have used this work in their B2B implementations. The companies listed on the endorsements page (http://www.cXML.org/prnews/companies.cfm) provided input on the specification and endorsed its use. Since the initial cXML release, Ariba has driven most changes to the protocol and retains control over the standard. Proposals are accepted from all at comments@cXML.org.

  11. How can I join the cXML.org organization?
    Due to the structure described above, cXML.org is not open to membership requests. We remain interested in all proposals for enhancements to the standard.

  12. Is cXML schema compliant? If so, is there a link to the cXML schema?
    cXML is based on the industry-standard XML DTD mechanism and will continue to use this mechanism until parsers implementing the W3C XML Schema proposal are stable and common.

    Transaction integrity and datatype validation are enforced at the application level and are well documented in the cXML User's Guide. Schema languages providing datatype validation in the parsers are just now becoming standardised. And, there is (as yet) no common framework for B2B transaction integrity. In fact, the mechanisms built into the cXML protocol are complete and easy to implement by any company. That's one reason cXML is the leading B2B protocol.

    At this point, the cXML group has not committed to a schema release date. Now that XML Schema is a full W3C recommendation, one factor has been removed. However, cXML publication as an XML Schema may follow prevalence of XML parsers that can handle the latest schema language.

    Part of the issue: Most XML parsers out there today can validate against a DTD and (for many) against various proprietary schema languages or the candidate recommendation. Parsers implementing the final recommendation are not yet prevalent. Without that, procurement applications would need to send different documents depending on the parser at the other end.

  13. What is the difference between cXML and UDDI?
    UDDI and cXML are separate efforts intended to cover different parts of the eCommerce landscape. Once two parties have discovered each other using UDDI, they may send cXML business documents to one another. In other words, cXML is a model that may be registered under UDDI and then used within binding templates and business service descriptions.

    The two specifications are completely separate in terms of development timeline, underlying technologies and technical infrastructure. They may (over time) merge towards a common transport layer such as SOAP or ebXML Messaging Service. However, a SOAP or ebXML version of cXML is not yet planned.

  14. What is unique about cXML when compared to X12, RosettaNet and xCBL?
    cXML is the primary protocol for B2B interactions over the Internet. Most other XML B2B protocols are an attempt to translate the EDI business process and documents into the syntax of XML. As such, they generally encounter the same problems that have plagued EDI: The need for point-to-point mappings makes them unsuitable for the Internet. cXML attempts to come at the problem from another angle (informed by EDI but not following it) and avoid those issues.

  15. Does cXML have any plans to support RosettaNet features?
    RosettaNet is many things but primarily a very good data dictionary for the electronic components supply chain. cXML is much more "horizontal" and is unlikely to include this data dictionary directly. RosettaNet has also defined a large number of transactions around business processes that, so far, have not been requested within the cXML protocol.

  16. Is any sample code available that implements the cXML standard?
    The cXML.org group does not itself provide example implementation of any portion of the cXML protocol except within the documentation sets we publish. However, member company Ariba, Inc. has a site containing many examples.

    Please head to https://knowledge.ariba.com/supplier and register to view this information. The "PunchOut Source code examples" section is probably most relevant to your question. That section includes ASP, Java, Perl and ColdFusion examples for a PunchOut site.