The MTML Standard

What is MTML?

The Marine Trading Markup Language (MTML) is designed to use the Internet to greatly facilitate trading in the maritime industry. MTML utilizes the Extensible Markup Language (XML) to encode marine trading transactions in a way that both computers and people can readily understand.

What is MTML 2.0?

MTML 2.0 has been developed to enhance and extend the previous version (MTML 1.5) based on the feedback and cooperation of existing MTML users. The key features that have been added in MTML 2.0 include the following:

  • Invoice; a new trading document now defined in MTML 2.0
  • File attachment support; any MTML document (RFQ, Quote etc) may include one or more file attachments.
  • Multiple line-item references (part numbers); each line-item may have any number of part numbers (IMPA No, ISSA No, Buyer Ref, Vendor Ref, Manufacturer Ref etc.).
  • Improved item substitution; suppliers may clearly identify substitute/replacement items.
  • Remaining quantity; for the crew/inventory to record the number of items remaining on board (ROB).
  • Extended field sizes as appropriate (eg 'Comments' has increased from 350 chars to 32,000 chars).

In addition, there have been numerous technical changes to improve the document structure and to remove some ambiguity that existed in earlier versions.

For a detailed list of all changes, please refer to changelog.txt in the MTML2.0 documentation.

To obtain your copy of the MTML standard, click the button below
(Please note that you can also get the old MTML 1.5 standard from the following pages.)

Get the MTML standard

Why use MTML?

MTML is compatible with the International Marine Purchasing Association’s (IMPA) Electronic Trading Standard Format (ETSF) which was based on the UN/EDIFACT standard for electronic data interchange and has been specifically designed for electronic exchange of purchasing information in the marine industry. Like IMPA ETSF, MTML is comprehensive and complete, and tailored to address trading issues unique to the maritime industry.

Ten alternative XML standards efforts were reviewed prior to the decision to go with an IMPA ETSF foundation. It is patently clear that, even in the more general standards efforts, no one has as yet done the hard, cross-industry work to create standards that will really support many industries. None of the reviewed standards addressed the breadth of transactions needed to fully support the marine trading process as business is conducted today. One effort, ebXML, is in it early stages, but promises to offer the greatest industry acceptance and consistency of approach with IMPA ETSF, since it is jointly sponsored by UN/CEFACT and OASIS. As an alternative, cross-industry XML standard emerges over the next few years, we will certainly move to replace MTML with that standard.

While maximizing the advantages of its XML foundation, the content and format of MTML messages has been kept as close as possible to IMPA ETSF. Those companies already utilizing IMPA ETSF should find that adding support for MTML requires minimal rework to existing software packages.

Marine shipping companies and their suppliers can utilize MTML right now to produce and accept requisitions, requests for quotes, quotations, orders and related interchanges using simple interfaces to their business systems.

MTML is being developed by the MeCA eProcurement Technical Committee, representing the leading e-Commerce Providers a nd Software Companies in the marine sector. It has also been submitted to OASIS and other standards organizations for review, standardization, and publication. MTML is an open standard that will be freely shared with all participants in the marine purchasing supply chain.

Why MeCA?

The companies involved in MeCA recognise that common standards and industry guidelines can only be achieved by working in a collaborative environment. As David Green of the Institute of Information Scientists points out, "such standards, developed by peer reviewed groups, will be a much more trusted source than something provided by a single commercial enterprise."

A Technical Committee, and User Group, open to all MeCA members, is working on the continued development of the Standard, taking advice from the customers on what is needed, and offering assistance for companies taking their first steps towards MTML.

Why are standards important?

Put simply, many buyers and suppliers have been hesitant to get involved with e-Commerce, fearing that their e-Commerce Provider may fail, leaving them with costly integration project to configure their back-office systems to communicate with the e-Commerce partner.

By standardizing the documents, and sets of data used, customers only need to undergo a single configuration of their back-office systems. They are then free to transact with any e-Commerce partner, buyer or supplier that is using the same standard set of documents / data sets.

Integrated solutions, once only realistically available to the very largest companies, are now available to small and medium-sized enterprises via the use of XML and MTML. Previous EDI based standards such as the IMPA ETS, were costly to implement and only provided for ‘point-to-point’ integration between two companies. MTML and the Internet allows ‘one-to-many’ integration, at a fraction of the cost.

Maritime eCommerce Association, Building 3, Chiswick Park, 566 Chiswick High Road, London W4 5YA