OASIS Technical Committee Work

January 3, 2001

Karl F. Best

The mission of OASIS is to promote and encourage the use of structured information standards such as XML and SGML. An important part of this mission is the development of vertical industry applications, conformance tests, interoperability specifications, and so on that make core standards usable. The XML standards developed under the auspices of W3C, for example, are made much more useful and valuable by the vertical applications and interoperability specifications created by OASIS. OASIS does not compete with, but rather builds upon and supplements the work done by organizations such as W3C (for XML) or ISO (for SGML). OASIS technical work generally falls into one of four categories.

  • XML applications: Development of applications of XML such as schemas/DTDs, namespaces, and stylesheets that may be used horizontally across all industries or in specific vertical industries. OASIS provides a vendor-neutral home and an open, democratic process for this work; this gives all interested parties, regardless of their standing in a specific industry, an equal voice in the creation of this work.
  • Interoperability: Development of specifications and standards that define how other standards will work together; or how earlier, non-XML standards can work in an XML world.
  • Conformance test development: Development of test scenarios and cases that can determine what it means to conform to specific standards; e.g. what does it really mean to "be XML"? While specific vendors have produced sets of test cases, OASIS' conformance work is done in a vendor-neutral environment. It does not rely on any one vendor's software.

OASIS is working with a number of vertical industry organizations to assist their efforts to move to XML or to develop industry-specific XML applications. Some of these efforts may take the form of OASIS technical committees, while others will remain within the industry organization.

OASIS also cosponsors with UN/CEFACT the ebXML initiative. This major initiative for the creation of a horizontal electronic business framework, which draws upon the efforts of other OASIS committees and other standards bodies, currently has close to 2000 participants from more than 60 countries on ten project teams.

Current OASIS technical committees (TCs) include the following.

Customer Information Quality (CIQ)

Chair: Ram Kumar, Mastersoft/Cognito (

This new TC held its first meeting at the XML 2000 conference in Washington, DC. Based on work developed by Mastersoft/Cognito and AND Data Solutions, the committee is building a generalized framework for the exchange of customer profiles by e-commerce trading partners, including both address and non-address information.

Directory Services Markup Language (DSML)

Chair: James Tauber, Bowstreet (

DSML is a specification for marking up directory services information using XML and is based on work previously created by Bowstreet, Netscape, IBM, Novell, and others. The version currently being developed (2.0) will include query and modification capabilities as well as LDAP functionality.


Chair: Norm Walsh, Sun (

The DocBook technical committee develops and maintains the DocBook DTD for computer documentation and other technical manuals, one of the most successful and widely supported DTDs in the world. This committee has been functioning since the early 1990s and became part of OASIS in 1998. The latest release of DocBook, v4.1.2 for XML and v4.1 for SGML, has been submitted to the OASIS membership for review and will be balloted in January 2001 to determine whether it becomes an OASIS Specification. The committee met at the XML 2000 conference to start work on v5.0, which will be an XML schema.

Entity Resolution

Chair: Lauren Wood, SoftQuad (

This new TC, which held its first meeting in late November, is defining a method for the resolution of entities whose definitions lie outside of the XML instance. This work, first done under the auspices of SGML Open, the forerunner of OASIS, and called the SGML Open Catalog, provided a standard method for SGML parsers to resolve entities through the use of an entity catalog. This new committee is updating the previous specification to work with XML.


Chair: Lynne Rosenthall, NIST (


Chair: Lisa Carnahan, NIST (

The Registry/Repository committee is developing a specification, based on ISO 11179, for registries that may be used for storing and retrieving XML objects in e-commerce. Earlier drafts of this specification were used for the Registry and were a starting point for the ebXML registry/repository work. This committee held meetings at the XML 2000 conference in Washington, DC, and is working toward the goal of completing the specification and submitting to the OASIS membership in late spring 2001.

Security Services

Chair: Marc Chanliau, Netegrity (

This new TC, launched just two weeks ago, aims to create a horizontal e-business security specification, including a set of XML Schemas and an XML-based request/response protocol, for authentication and authorization services. Using this specification, users can exchange credentialed documents that can be authenticated by the receiving party. Initial work for the TC will be based on S2ML, but will also evaluate other technologies for inclusion. The committee's first meeting will be held January 9th.

XML Conformance Chair: Mary Brady, NIST (

This TC is producing test suites for testing the conformance of applications to XML. The test suite consists of thousands of test cases, most of which have been donated by companies like Sun and IBM. The current test suite will be completed by the end of December, and it includes updates for XML 2nd edition.

XSLT/XPath Conformance

Chair: Ken Holman, Crane Softwrights (

This TC is producing test suites for testing the conformance of applications to XSLT and XPath. Test cases have been donated to this effort by companies such as IBM, Sun Microsystems, Lotus, RMIT, and NIST, and work is based on testing guidelines developed by the Interoperability/Conformance TC. This committee held meetings at the XML 2000 conference in Washington, DC.

To become a member of an OASIS TC you must be an employee of an OASIS member organization, or be an individual member of OASIS, and you must notify the TC chair that you are interested in participating. Non-TC members may participate in these TCs by reading the mail list archives, available to the public, and commenting by sending email to the comment list for each committee. Additional information about the OASIS technical committees, including how to post to comment lists, may be found at the OASIS web site.