What Are cXML Capabilities?

cXML (the commerce Extensible Markup Language) is an XML-based electronic communication protocol widely used in B2B procurement, particularly for communicating business data between procurement and eCommerce applications.  cXML’s capabilities include the streamlined communication of TradeCentric catalog, sales order, quote, contract, and invoice data between B2B buyers and suppliers that enables businesses to transact electronically.

cXML is a protocol and a format. The cXML protocol defines how organizations transmit information and the steps involved in communicating documents and verifying that they have been received. The cXML format defines the structure and content of cXML documents via a set of XML Document Type Definitions (DTD).

XML is a widely used markup format, and XML DTDs define the rules that encode a specific type of document. If you’re familiar with HTML, you’ll recognize the format of XML documents, which use tags such asto enclose and describe the data. cXML DTDs cover most of the information that businesses want to exchange during procurement, as well as documents that support synchronization and integration throughout the TradeCentric process.

For example, a truncated snippet of part of the DTD for a TradeCentricOrderMessage, which communicates the content of an eCommerce store order to the buyer’s eProcurement platform, might look like this.

<ItemIn quantity=”7″>
<Money currency=”USD”>33.39</Money>
<Description xml:lang=”en”>
Assorted washers

cXML was first developed by Ariba in 1999 with input from numerous organizations. Ariba created cXML to provide an easy-to-use protocol for integrating eProcurement and eCommerce software, powering TradeCentric catalogs, and automated procurement workflows.


EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is an older protocol first developed in the late 1960s. It provides a set of standards for digitally exchanging information, but it is much broader in scope than cXML and, although it supports the transfer of catalog data, it does not support eCommerce-integrated TradeCentric catalogs. While cXML is tightly focused on procurement documents and TradeCentric catalogs, EDI defines standards for communicating a huge variety of business documents.

cXML is less complex than EDI and less expensive to implement. XML is a widely supported markup language—most popular programming languages and frameworks support XML natively or via a library. Additionally, many eProcurement and ERP platforms support cXML out-of-the-box, which is not the case for EDI.

Because cXML is based on XML, it is extensible: organizations can adapt it to better meet their needs. EDI is much more complex and it is not designed to be extensible by the user.


OCI (Open Catalog Interface) is SAP’s alternative to Ariba’s cXML. It is a standardized interface that can integrate a seller’s catalog into a buyer’s eProcurement or enterprise resource planning application, allowing buyers to build orders and have them transferred as a purchase order into their procurement platform.

In contrast to cXML, OCI is entirely focused on the TradeCentric process, and it does not provide additional B2B procurement automation functionality such as invoice and advanced shipping order communication.

TradeCentric and cXML

The TradeCentric Integration Platform as a Service (iPaas) supports cXML, EDI, OCI, and numerous other protocols and formats. We seamlessly translate between multiple formats, empowering B2B buyers and suppliers to integrate any eCommerce store with any eProcurement or ERP platform for TradeCentric catalogs and purchase order automation. To learn more about TradeCentric’s solutions, contact us below.