The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS) is a global consortium that drives the development, convergence, and adoption of e-business and web service standards. With its headquarters in the United States, members of the consortium decide how and what work is undertaken through an open, democratic process.
Technical work is carried out under the following categories: Web Services, e-Commerce, Security, Law & Government, Supply Chain, Computing Management, Application Focus, Document-Centric, XML Processing, Conformance/Interop, and Industry Domains.
OASIS was first formed as SGML Open in 1993 as a trade association of SGML tool vendors to cooperatively promote the adoption of SGML through mainly educational activities, though some amount of technical activity was also pursued including an update of the CALS Table Model specification and specifications for fragment interchange and entity management.
In 1998, with the movement of the high tech industry to XML, SGML Open changed its emphasis from SGML to XML, and changed its name to OASIS Open to be inclusive of XML and any future structured information standards. The focus of the consortium's activities also moved from promoting adoption (as XML was getting lots of attention on its own) to developing technical specifications. In July 2000 a new technical committee process was approved. With the adoption of the process the manner in which technical committees were created, operated, and progressed their work was regularized. At the adoption of the process there were five technical committees; by 2004 there were nearly 70.
During 1999 OASIS was approached by UN/CEFACT, the committee of the United Nations dealing with standards for business, to jointly develop a new set of specifications for electronic business. The joint initiative, called "ebXML" and which first met in November 1999, was chartered for a three-year period. At the final meeting under the original charter, in Vienna, UN/CEFACT and OASIS agreed to divide the remaining work between the two organizations and to coordinate the completion of the work through a coordinating committee. In 2004 OASIS submitted its completed ebXML specifications to ISO TC154 where they were approved as ISO 15000.
Standards under development
The following standards are under development by OASIS technical committees:
- AMQP — Advanced Message Queuing Protocol, an application layer protocol for message-oriented middleware.
- BCM — Business Centric-Methodology, BCM is a comprehensive approach and proven techniques that enable a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and support enterprise agility and interoperability.
- CAP — Common Alerting Protocol, is an XML-based data format for exchanging public warnings and emergencies between alerting technologies.
- CAM — Content Assembly Mechanism, is a generalized assembly mechanism for using templates of XML business transaction content and the associated rules. CAM templates augment schema syntax and provide implementers with the means to specify interoperable interchange patterns.
- CAMP - Cloud Application Management for Platforms, is an API for managing public and private cloud applications.
- CMIS — Content Management Interoperability Services, is a domain model and Web services standard for working with Enterprise content management repositories and systems.
- CIQ — Customer Information Quality, is an XML Specifications for defining, representing, interoperating and managing party information (e.g. name, address).
- DocBook — DocBook, a markup language for technical documentation. It was originally intended for authoring technical documents related to computer hardware and software but it can be used for any other sort of documentation.
- DITA — Darwin Information Typing Architecture, a modular and extensible XML-based language for topic-based information, such as for online help, documentation, and training.
- EML — Election Markup Language, End to End information standards and processes for conducting democratic elections using XML-based information recording.
- EDXL - Emergency Data Exchange Language, Suite of XML-based messaging standards that facilitate emergency information sharing between government entities and the full range of emergency-related organizations
- GeoXACML — Geospatial eXtensible Access Control Markup Language, a geo-specific extension to XACML Version 2.0, mainly the geometric data-type urn:ogc:def:dataType:geoxacml:1.0:geometry and several geographic functions such as topological, bag, set, geometric and conversion functions.
- KMIP — The Key Management Interoperability Protocol tries to establish a single, comprehensive protocol for the communication between enterprise key management systems and encryption systems.
- oBIX — open Building Information Exchange, an extensible XML specification for enterprise interaction with building-based (or other) control systems, including HVAC, Access Control, Intrusion Detection, and many others.
- OpenDocument — OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications, an open document file format for saving office documents such as spreadsheets, memos, charts, and presentations.
- SAML — Security Assertion Markup Language, a standard XML-based framework for the secure exchange of authentication and authorization information.
- SDD — Solution Deployment Descriptor, a standard XML-based schema defining a standardized way to express software installation characteristics required for lifecycle management in a multi-platform environment.
- SPML — Service Provisioning Markup Language, a standard XML-based protocol for the integration and interoperation of service provisioning requests.
- TOSCA - Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications, a Standard to describe cloud services, the relationships between parts of the service, and the operational behavior of the services.
- UBL — Universal Business Language, National effort to define a royalty-free library of standard electronic XML business documents. All invoices to the Danish government have to be in UBL electronic format since February 2005.
- UDDI — Universal Description Discovery and Integration, a platform-independent, XML-based registry for companies and individuals to list Web Services.
- WebCGM — Web Computer Graphics Metafile, a profile of Computer Graphics Metafile (CGM), which adds Web linking and is optimized for Web applications in technical illustration, electronic documentation, geophysical data visualization, and similar fields.
- WS-BPEL — Web Services Business Process Execution Language
- WSDM — Web Services Distributed Management
- XACML — eXtensible Access Control Markup Language, a standard XML-based protocol for access control policies.
- XDI — XRI Data Interchange, a standard for sharing, linking, and synchronizing data ("dataweb") across multiple domains and applications using XML documents, eXtensible Resource Identifiers (XRIs), and a new method of distributed data control called a link contract.
- XLIFF — XML Localization Interchange File Format, a XML-based format created to standardize localization.
- XRI — eXtensible Resource Identifier, a URI-compatible scheme and resolution protocol for abstract identifiers used to identify and share resources across domains and applications.
Patent disclosure controversy
Like many bodies producing open standards, OASIS has a patent disclosure policy requiring participants to disclose intent to apply for software patents for technologies under consideration in the standard. Like the W3C, which requires participants to offer royalty-free licenses to anyone using the resulting standard, OASIS offers a similar Royalty Free on Limited Terms mode, along with a Royalty Free on RAND Terms mode and a RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) mode for its committees.
Controversy has arisen because this licensing allows publication of standards requiring licensing fee payments to patent holders, the use of which would effectively eliminate the possibility of free/open source implementations of these standards. Further, contributors could initially offer royalty-free use of their patent, later imposing per-unit fees, after the standard becomes accepted.
Supporters of OASIS point out this could occur anyway since an agreement would not be binding on non-participants, discouraging contributions from potential participants. Supporters further argue that IBM and Microsoft shifting standardization efforts from the W3C to OASIS is evidence this is already occurring.
Doug Mahugh - while working for Microsoft (a promoter of Office Open XML, a Microsoft document format competing with OASIS's ISO/IEC 26300, i.e. OpenDocument) as a Senior Product Manager specializing in Office client interoperability - claimed that many countries have expressed frustration about the pace of OASIS's responses to defect reports that have been submitted on ISO/IEC 26300 and the inability for SC 34 members to participate in the maintenance of ODF. However, Rob Weir, co-chair of the OASIS ODF Technical Committee noted that at the time, "the ODF TC had received zero defect reports from any ISO/IEC national body other than Japan", and that the one report that was submitted by them was handled promptly and to the satisfaction of the submitter.
- Lucy Sherriff OASIS open standards not open enough, The Register, Feb. 23, 2005.
- Jay Lyman OASIS: Meaningful open standards or mirage?, linux.com, May 24, 2005.
- Official website
- OASIS specifications
- A Call to Action in OASIS
- OASIS making it easier to use standards without fee worries