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What you need to know about UBL 2.1, now an official ISO International Standard

By Mathieu Pasture
January 07, 2016

On December 15, 2015, the official ISO/IEC 19845:2015 Universal Business Language Version 2.1 (UBL 2.1) was published, making UBL an official ISO international standard. This means that the XML-based standard documentation is recognized internationally and will be more readily available to businesses and system integrators around the world. We’ll show you why this matters and how you can use it to save your business money.

What is UBL?

UBL, the Universal Business Language, is the product of an international effort to define a royalty-free library of standard electronic XML business documents…UBL is designed to plug directly into existing business, legal, auditing, and records management practices, eliminating the re-keying of data in existing fax- and paper-based supply chains and providing an entry point into electronic commerce for small and medium-sized businesses.

-Oasis UBL Committee


In short, UBL is a defined business language that seeks to simplify communication between companies, systems, and other organizations. UBL define parameters and language to facilitate electronic business data flow. Combined with its open and free model, UBL makes it easy for many organizations to adopt this standardization.

Why is it important?

The standardization of electronic business through UBL has already reduced labor costs of countless companies and organizations. The earliest adopter Denmark saves 100 million euros in labor costs per year from the simplification that was brought by UBL adoption. Because the committee that created UBL had a vision of easy adoption, UBL has exponential growth built into it. The more businesses that adopt UBL as their standard means of communication, the more incentive there is for other business to adopt this language. Since the barriers to adoption are vastly lower than other standards because of the open and free nature, UBL’s continued growth is assured.

Integration and B2B communication is a growing need for all modern businesses. As data becomes more and more digitized, the need to communicate this data in an electronic way becomes more fundamental. Businesses and organizations have striven to create standard languages of communication over the years, with standards such as ANSI X12 and EDIFACT. UBL is the next step in standardization, providing a refined approach to business communication.

Consider yourself UBL’s intuitive nature. X12 definition looks like this:



UBL definition looks like this:



<cbc:InvoicedQuantity unitCode=”EA”>100</InvoicedQuantity>

<cbc:LineExtensionAmount currencyID=”USD”>9.99</cbc:LineExtensionAmount>


Even if you’re not a programmer, you can understand better the UBL language. Because UBL is based on XML schemas, it provides a high level of sophistication. This also means that the UBL standardization is easy to learn, resulting in lower internal resources cost because resources require less experience to be considered experts.

How do I start using it?

There are two main things you need to do in order to adopt UBL as your business standard for communication. First is to understand the standardization and identify which transactions you will leverage with your business network. Extensive resource on UBL can be found here: . Because of the UBL philosophy, you can access all of these resources for free, contrary to other modes of standardization.

The next step, is to enable a software that can support the UBL functionality. Lucky for you, Babelway already fully supports UBL 2.1 and has built its product to support UBL functionality. UBL isn’t new to the market, so we’ve become experts with this standardization over the years. With this recently official ISO recognition, the growth of UBL is inevitable.

This is how we do it:

First, we have message definitions specific to UBL. This means that every transaction you run through Babelway will have UBL-specific validations applied to it. You can even select what level of validations you wish to apply.

UBL MessageDefinition2

Next, you choose which message format your system needs to read. Most ERP systems are XML or Flat File based. Babelway’s catalog has an extensive list to help integrate into your system. We can also help you build it.

ERP Message2

Then, with both types in place, you can use our powerful visual mapping tool to make UBL data flow into your system, without needing an IT resource.

Mapping Snapshot2

When you have a full transaction built, you can begin receiving UBL documents from your business network. Duplicating the channel from one partner to the next is easy too, so you can grow without your IT costs growing. As always, Babelway support and project teams will be with you whenever you need them, doing the work for you, or supporting your team as you do the work yourself.

Not only will you get full functionality support for UBL, you will also enter into a partnership with a UBL expert that you can leverage going forward. Our product and support teams are well-versed in the UBL standardization and have learned many best-practices to help your make your UBL adoption successful. Simply, we will help you save money. If you’d like to know more about how Babelway can help you leverage the power of UBL, let us know.

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