Latest UBLish v2.0.alpha Powers Your Spreadsheet With Direct UBL Generation

2008 Oct 06

UBLish v2.0.alpha (20081006) is now available for early download!

This version primarily delivers the new functionality of converting fancy spreadsheet designed with user input data directly into XML-instances such as UBL or other document formats. 

It implements a sort of "Visual XSLT" by allowing user to specify a modified form of XPath in the comment block of each cell whose data is to be transformed into the XML-instance.  In this way, user not only has full control of exactly where in the XML-instance the cell data is to be deposited, the various functionlalities of Excel, such as
stylish fonts, colored diagrams and images, can be fully leveraged to produce very user-friendly input forms in an extremely cost-effective manner.

Some new features are:

* UBLish can now "see" colors - only light-yellow and light-blue colored cells are processed for XML-Instance generation.
* Light-blue cells are LOCKED cells with automatically computed values.  So these provide data entry users to see what is the interim computation (eg. Totals or Deficits), and also allow the transformed values to serve as an Excel-computed checksum.
* Spreadsheets can be designed such that only light-yellow cells are unlocked while all other cells (including light-blue cells) are LOCKED.  This means enhanced data integrity since data entry user's focus is brought towards only the light-yellow cells, and that all other cells cannot be overwritten nor altered.

* Target document namespace and all other namespace values desired to be used can be stored together with the spreadsheet in Excel's property bag.  Just use "File-->Properties" within Excel, or just right-click the spreadsheet file within Explorer to alter the property values would be all that is needed to let UBLish know what to do.
* Comment blocks serve dual purposes -
  (1) Free-text form of help text to assist data entry user about the nature of the cell, expected values, required or optional, etc, and,
  (2) a new line beginning with "Data:" starts off a modified XPath expression to "point" the cell towards a specific location within the target XML-Instance.  UBLish would then reproduce the cell's value onto the target instance accordingly.
 This means user no longer needs to "overlearn" the full complexity of XSLT in order to begin UBL instance (or other XML instance) production.  Just a simple XPath-like expression (which itself looks like a Unix/Linux directory path) would be sufficient.
 User also need not worry about opening and closing tag names, namespace declarations, declaring parent element before instantiating child elements (UBLish automatically does it), and a number of other related details which should not concern
 data entry user.
* BATCH CONVERSION of an entire directory of spreadsheets is also built into UBLish.  This means it is possible to receive a great many spreadsheet inputs, such as Order or Invoice, and transform them quickly into UBL instances without human intervention.
  Sample usages might be:
  [Case A]
   (a) Design an Order spreadsheet for public users to fill in and mail back to an ordering email,
   (b) Mail server deposits the spreadsheet into a preset directory,
   (c) UBLish batch-converts them into electronic orders for further downstream processing.

  [Case B]
   (a) Design an Invoice spreadsheet for internal users to bill BIG GUY customer who pays only via UBL invoices.
   (b) When billing time comes, fill up spreadsheet and run UBLish to generate UBL invoice,
   (c) Service (mail to web-service or other transmission) the XML invoice to BIG GUY.

Many companies, regardless of large or small, much desire or even require the proper formating of their input forms and output printouts even when the electronic form has already carried all the required information.  It is understandable since not all
environments have proper legal supporting framework to fully allow electronic equivalent transmissions, leading to the need of a paper-based backup.  In addition, a familiar data entry environment allowing minimal upwards learning curve would help to accelerate XML electronic operating platform.

With UBLish, the user-friendly Excel spreadsheet forms can now be a single point of data entry for unsophisticated human data entry users to fill up data just once.  UBLish readily takes the spreadsheet and transforms it meticulously and accurately to the deposit points in the final XML instance according to XPath-look-alike specifications
in the cells' comment blocks, which also double-up as help text.

For further examples and details of the spreadsheet design, please see sample spreadsheet at (after installation at default directory):

C:\Program Files\UBLish v2.0.alpha (20081006)\instance-dir\xls\UBL-INV-20080901-120353-ABX2.xls

(Spreadsheet may be in Excel .xls or OOXML .xlsx formats)


About UBLish
UBLish v2.0.alpha is an inter-schema helper (ish) software that assists in conversions from UBL spreadsheet models into various derivatives like UBL schemas, customized schemas, XML-Spreadsheets, and generation of random test instances.  It is an open-sourced project made available under Apache License.


All comments, suggestions, feedbacks, bugs, etc are most welcome!

Chin Chee-Kai

UBLish v2.0.alpha (Download):

UBLish Project Site:

XML-Spreadsheet Format Description:

Kopio Project Site: Focus Areas: BPEL | DITA | ebXML | IDtrust | OpenDocument | SAML | UBL | UDDI
OASIS sites: OASIS | Cover Pages | | AMQP | CGM Open | eGov | Emergency | IDtrust | LegalXML | Open CSA | OSLC | WS-I