Oasis has ratified Universal Business Language (UBL) Version 1.0, which defines a common XML library for use in online transactions. It has given the standard its highest level of ratification.

The royalty-free technology - in development for six years - provides a common set of e-commerce standards. It is designed to plug into existing business, legal, auditing, and records management systems to remove the need to re-key data. As such, it should open the way for small businesses to enter the more advanced elements of e-commerce, according to Oasis.

"The goal of UBL is pretty simple," said Jon Bosak, chairman of the Oasis UBL Technical Committee and an engineer at Sun. "It is to define a standard set of XML schemas for common business messages like purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices."

Serving as the first standard implementation of the ebXML Core Components Technical Specification, UBL offers a library of documents such as purchase orders. Plus reusable data components from which an unlimited number of other documents can be constructed.

Among the companies that have contributed to UBL are IBM, Microsoft, NEC, Oracle and Sun.