UBL Invoice  

More invoices are send as PDF nowadays, as visual part of an E-Invoice.

For efficient processing the PDF need to be combined with an XML.

Print2Process is delivering right that, a PDF with line item XML content.

UBL (Universal Business Language) is used as the XML output standard.

But we deliver any XML, just the solution to accomplish office automation!
















UBL invoices, we are really going digital!

Digital invoicing wasn’t invented yesterday; think for instance of the EDI standard developed in 1960.
They realised we can avoid a lot of administrative tasks with a uniform standard.
The uniform EDI language made an exchange between different computer systems possible.

EDI stands for Electronic Data Interchange, and is still used in various applications.
In the Netherlands, we mostly used it in the food industry and linked logistics companies.

There are various abbreviations and dialects for EDI.
Considering the interest, a lively industry has arisen around this subject over the past few years.
Google ‘EDI’ and a world of digital communication will be revealed to you.

In line with EDI, OASIS’s Jon Bosak invented the first UB version as we know it as early as 2001.
This first UBL XML was released in 2004 and shows similarities with the previous EDI standard.

An important difference is that the UBL standard could be used royalty-free.


The development remains

Standards are never finished, and remain in development, especially when the foundation is not yet set in stone.
In 2006, the results of progressing insights led to the basis of what we know today as UBL 2.0.
Of course there have been several additions since, and changes will continue to happen.

OASIS itself is a non-profit organisation that champions the development of open standards.
The bill for development and their housing is paid by their members, such as IBN, Microsoft, etc.
More on OASIS and specifically the UBL standard can be found on the OASIS website.

A standard like that is a wonderful thing of course, but it’s only worth something if it helps the user!
This OASIS website does not help with this directly, although the technically-minded can find relevant information here.

The UBL standard is still accepted by many accounting packages today.
And increasing numbers of systems can also produce this format for the receiving client.
Our website features an informative video that shows you this development.

For systems that cannot produce their own UBL, there are rising numbers of parties on the market.
These providers mostly make invoice-to-UBL conversion possible through an Internet portal.

We know you do not need an external party for this conversion technique.

Just look at Print2Process, which makes a custom UBL XML with a PDF in the house style!




Standard line-item recognition

There are more differences in Print2Process, such as standard line recognition:
The most complex invoices are made insightful in a UBL XML using our solution.
Online providers of invoice line recognition can of course have the UBL XML made manually in low-wage economies.

There is nothing wrong with that, but we have chosen a solution that works on your own computer.
We believe that this is the method for which the standard was created; information exchange without a third party.
The freely usable UBL format provides freedom in financial communication between involved partners.

This exchange does not need to be limited to just invoicing information.
Think of automatic UBL generation of orders for instance, or standardisation of quote information.
The possibilities are endless and will lead to a reduction of administrative burdens!

Because of the overview, we limit ourselves to the popular UBL invoicing solution.
Although we do have the technology to convert any type of document to XML.

In summary, there are no technical limitation to make e-invoicing through XML possible.
Does this mean the eventual end of traditional OCR invoice recognition?
The answer is a resounding: yes! But it will still be a while…


A few nuances from the UBL practice


The Dutch government proposed switching to electronic invoicing on January 1, 2017, for the usual reasons:
E-invoicing is the future, quicker, easier, more accurate and saves entrepreneurs on administration.

Who doesn’t like it when the government says they will diminish bureaucratic processes for companies?

Parties soon came to the table.
These parties have each had their own variation of the UBL standard, SI-UBL and UBL-OHNL, accepted.
Organisation-specific integration can be realised through various portals and accounting systems.
This way, digital invoicing requirements of the government can be met.
Whoever wishes to send digital invoices autonomously ends up at various providers.

In Belgium, they first promoted their ‘own’ e-fff UBL 2.0 format, but has since been overtaken by the http://peppol.eu/ portal. Likewise a slightly deviating standard and more importantly, you require a third party in order to send an invoice. Interesting fact is that the Belgians suggest that this will become the standard. There is a European norm being prepared by the CENBII working group.

Our other neighbour, Germany, has a completely different system that they say will become the standard. In summary, the Germans wrap the XML within the PDF. They send a document that contains both the PDF and the XML. Not a new technology for EasyData; we have applied this XFA technology for over 10 years, especially for archive applications.
The German government has elected to require this invoicing acceptation technology through an open standard.

As can be read on the website http://www.ferd-net.de:
the basic idea of ZUGFeRD is that everybody should be able to exchange electronic invoices without consultation or agreement in advance. The ZUGFeRD data format for electronic invoices is available for free.

As shown by the above, this way of working differs considerably from what we use; the separate XML and PDF.
The Germans are now planning to get their combined XML/PDF file accepted Europe-wide through standardisation. Firstly through a DIN (German Industry Norm) and then converting it to a CEN (European Committee for Standardisation). The result of this multi-stage standardisation is how Germany thinks to obtain European adaptation of their standard. Each country is trying to reinvent the wheel and export their solutions to other European countries through their own cultural habits.

What is new? Each country thinks their solution will be elevated to European standard.


The European idea


Above interpretations are not intended as a critique of standardisation.
More of a summary to point out the various technical but also political sentiments.
An initially open standard will be interpreted differently by various governments.

The advantage is that the varying platforms are extremely suitable for digital invoicing.
The current status is that most accounting systems can use UBL XML.

Are deviating XML formats being used for incoming invoices?

EasyData knows what to do:
We also handle deviating formats in the automated invoicing process.