For the last few months, I've been delving deep into the world of ebXML Core Components Technical Specification (CCTS) and the Xml Naming and Design Rules (NDR). It is a world that is becoming more and more the basis of standards development frameworks. Organizations such as OAGi have been at the forefront of its development. CIDX, HR-XML, ACORD, AIAG, UBL, and others have been involved in, are working on, or are at least examining core components as the basis for interoperability across domain standards.
As with any major development, its complexity is its greatest asset and its greatest weakness. On the latter, I was often one who scratched his head trying to understand the acronym soup that is CCTS. I frequently felt that while the theory was good, the gap in education and awareness was the biggest hindrance towards its adoption. Now that I have been deep into the specification, I feel much more enlightened. And I feel like there are in the pipeline some really interesting implementations that will help usher the CCTS into a new phase as the basis for interoperability.
The very real problem with interop across domains is that either one side has to give up its well-developed and well-designed components in favor of another OR both sides need to split the difference and agree to a common data model that neither had in full. For industries that have an established installation base, the cost of doing this is significant. So one first needs to develop the business need for making change. Then, once the case is made on the business level, then the work of finding a common framework begins. Certainly the convergence of groups such as the ones I've listed makes things easier and it seems fairly clear where things are headed. This was not the case until relatively recently I should add. Case in point is this cross industry core components workshop held this past summer.
So watch out for the emerging support for CCTS in the future. I'd love to spend some time and work on its usability. Doing some educational pieces or develop some training modules for this to make it easier to comprehend and get started. By comparison, I look back at the great value of the educational efforts of Roger Costello in advancing the complex spec that is Xml Schema. Would love to work on the same for core components.