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Technical Committee Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

See the complete FAQ here

[Excerpt from January 2002 Version]

Q: Why should I care whether a POS product is in conformance with industry standards?

A: Because a POS system is not a monolith. It is typically constructed by combining three very distinct types of product offerings, each of which may be supplied from a different set of competing vendors:

  1. POS Devices (Scanners, Scales, Printers, …)
  2. POS Terminal (Hardware and OS)
  3. POS Application Software

Without POS standards the retailer is left with the unenviable choice of buying all three components as a unified package from the same vendor, or of deploying a POS application which has been hard-wired to support a specific POS Terminal and/or a set of associated peripherals.

Requiring selected POS vendor products to be in conformance with appropriate industry standards allows the retailer to mix and match components when constructing a POS system, thereby removing the “single vendor lock” that has proven so costly in the past.

In other words, POS standards are all about providing the retailer with “choice” … the choice to select best of breed components, the choice to replace a vendor whose product offerings haven’t kept pace with evolving technology or one whose prices are no longer competitive.

This is why the development of all widely accepted POS standards has been driven primarily by retailers and why ensuring conformance to these standards is in the best interests of every retailer.

Q: What is UnifiedPOS and what is its value proposition?

A: The UnifiedPOS standard was created under the auspices of the Association for Retail Standards (ARTS) to define a common architecture for describing POS peripherals. The latest version (V1.6) defines the model for accessing and controlling 23 distinct types of retail peripherals by specifying a unique set of properties, methods and events for each. These models are documented using the widely accepted Unified Modeling Language (UML), and provide:

POS device manufacturers with the interface architecture they must support in their device drivers (the software which actually communicates with the device).

POS application developers with the interface architecture they must use to access and control each type of device (scanner, fiscal printer, scale, cash drawer, etc.). This interface remains unchanged despite any variations in the particular device configurations of the POS terminals where the application may be deployed.

The end result for the retailer who selects UnifiedPOS compliant device peripherals is that the POS application can be written independently of any peripheral vendor or model number. Upgrading or replacing the peripherals no longer impacts the application … a major advantage.


Press Release of UnifiedPOS 1.12 Release

For Immediate Release
Contact Kathy Grannis or Ellen Davis (212) 624-8470
grannisk@nrf.com or davise@nrf.com

ARTS Announces UnifiedPOS Release 1.12

New York City, January 15, 2008 – The Association for Retail Technology Standards today announced a significant new release of Unified Point of Service (UnifiedPOS) 1.12, the international POS device connectivity standard. This new release includes XML mapping, the foundation for future remote access capability and support for data encryption, card and device authentication for magnetic stripe readers to reduce fraud. Other changes in this release include: six new device categories, systems management information and device statistics, new methods to the fiscal printer and support for Sweden and the Swedish Krona.

“The inclusion of XML POS in this release positions UnifiedPOS to take advantage of SOA and web services,” said Phuc Do, Senior Software Engineer at IBM and Chair of the Remote Access POS work team that is developing the new features of UnifiedPOS enabling remote and mobile POS environments by leveraging various wireless technologies. “By incorporating XML, future releases will be truly open, with no need for special implementation guidelines for different platforms.”

UnifiedPOS continues to be the worldwide single specification for OPOS, POS for .NET and JavaPOS, ensuring consistency across platforms and offering retailers freedom of choice in selecting new software and hardware for the Point of Sale.

“Representatives from UnifiedPOS member companies BearingPoint, Datalogic Scanning, Fujitsu Transaction Solutions, IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, NCR, OPOS-J, Seiko Epson and Wincor Nixdorf contribute hundreds of hours of volunteer labor each year,” said Harry McKinlay, representing Fujitsu Transaction Solutions and the outgoing Chair of UnifiedPOS. “The committee is determined to continue to meet the single specification objective for POS peripheral interoperability by embracing new technologies, such as XML, that benefit retail IT.”

Demonstrations of POS Interoperability, including Web Services POS, will be presented in the ARTS Standards Pavilion (booth 2155) at the NRF Annual Convention January 14 and 15. Retailers and vendors are encouraged to stop by and give input for further development of this standard. The new specification with full update details is available here.

The Association for Retail Technology Standards is an international membership organization dedicated to reducing the costs of technology through standards. Since 1993, ARTS has been delivering application standards exclusively to the retail industry. ARTS has three standards: The Standard Relational Data Model, UnifiedPOS and ARTS-XML. Membership is open to all members of the international technology community—retailers from all industry segments, application developers and hardware companies.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2006 sales of $4.7 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations.


Press Release of UnifiedPOS 1.11 Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kathy Grannis or Ellen Davis (202) 783-7971
Email: grannisk@nrf.com or davise@nrf.com

ARTS Announces UnifiedPOS Release 1.11

New York, NY, January 15, 2007 – The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) today announced the release of Unified Point of Service (UnifiedPOS) 1.11, the international POS device connectivity standard. This new release contains significant enhancements to support self service check out and fiscal printers required in many countries outside the USA.

ARTS is very pleased that UnifiedPOS continues to be the worldwide single specification for OPOS, POS for .NET and JavaPOS, ensuring consistency across platforms that offers retailers freedom of choice in selecting new software and hardware for the Point of Sale.  “Representatives from UnifiedPOS member companies BearingPoint, Fujitsu Transaction Solutions, IBM, Microsoft, NCR, OPOS-J, PSC, Seiko Epson, Sun Microsystems, Symbol, and Wincor Nixdorf contribute hundreds of hours of volunteer labor each year,” noted Paul Gay, representing Seiko Epson and a core member of UnifiedPOS.  “The committee is determined to continue to meet the single specification objective for POS peripheral interoperability by embracing new technologies that benefit retail IT.”

Future releases of UnifiedPOS will support remote peripheral devices such as line busters and cart-mounted scanners. WAMPOS, the first specification for remote, browser-based connectivity, will be available soon as volume two of UnifiedPOS 1.11. This new Volume will grow over the next few years and become the Remote Access POS specification encompassing Web Services and XML implementations to operate within service oriented architectures (SOA).

“Microsoft is deeply committed to standards to provide developers, partners and retailers a rich user experience, productivity gains and significant performance improvement," said Ilya Bukshteyn, director, Windows Embedded Marketing, Mobile and Embedded Devices Division, Microsoft Corp. "Our next release of Point of Service for .NET version 1.11, available later in the quarter, will include support for the Unified POS v1.11 specification, offering greater POS peripheral and application compatibility.”

Conceptual demonstrations of Web Services POS (WS-POS) will be presented in the ARTS Standards Pavilion (booth 2155) at the NRF Annual Convention January 15 and 16. Retailers and vendors are encouraged to review these demonstrations and provide direction to the developing standard. The new specification with full update details is available at www.nrf-arts.org.

The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) is an international membership organization dedicated to reducing the costs of technology through standards. Since 1993, ARTS has been delivering application standards exclusively to the retail industry. ARTS has three standards: The Standard Relational Data Model, UnifiedPOS and IXRetail. Membership is open to all members of the international technology community- retailers from all industry segments, application developers and hardware companies. www.nrf-arts.org

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2005 sales of $4.4 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.


Press Release of UnifiedPOS 1.8 Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Krugman/Ellen Tolley (202) 783-7971
E-Mail: krugmans@nrf.com or tolleye@nrf.com

ARTS announces UnifiedPOS release 1.8

New York, NY, January 11, 2004 -- The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) today announced the release of UnifiedPOS release 1.8. The newest version provides significant enhancements for connecting peripheral devices to Point of Service terminals with added support for SmartCard Reader/Writer devices that are enjoying increased popularity for payment and loyalty applications.

In addition, the newly adopted Reduced Space Symbology (RSS) has been added to the POS Printer device class and the Bar Code Reader device class. RSS bar codes are integral to a myriad of new POS product-marking applications, including the new coupon printing requirements that are being endorsed by the Uniform Code Council.  Also added to this release is the ability to support the forwarding of peripheral device usage statistics to an application in a defined structure using XML message tags. This allows for easier application development of programs to help support improved maintenance and consumables monitoring of POS peripherals such as printers, MSR readers, Barcode Scanners and other POS peripheral products.

“UnifiedPOS release 1.8 has been revised to keep pace with the latest technology being used by retailers and to ensure UnifiedPOS will continue as the most widely utilized ARTS standard,” said Richard Mader Executive Director of ARTS. “The fact that this 1,200-plus page specification is maintained by an all-volunteer committee of the leading POS vendors speaks volumes about its benefits. Companies like Fujitsu Transaction Solutions, IBM, NCR, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Epson and Wincor provide hundreds of hours of expertise free to benefit the retail industry and save many hours of proprietary development.”

UnifiedPOS is a key selection criterion in the recently-released ARTS RFP Standard for purchasing Point of Sale applications and hardware. It helps protect the retailer’s investment by separating the application from the hardware, thereby allowing retailers to change either hardware or software with significantly less programming expense.

UnifiedPOS is a vendor neutral and operating-system independent POS hardware-to-Application Programmer Interface standard. It may be installed as OPOS on Windows platforms or JavaPOS on Windows, Linux, Unix, and Solaris platforms.

The UnifiedPOS documentation provides separate Appendix Chapters to guide the developer in the implementation of Applications written in a Java or Windows languages such as Visual Basic or Visual C++ . In the future, a new Appendix will be provided to document how UnifiedPOS can be used in a Net programming environment.

The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) of the National Retail Federation is an international membership organization dedicated to reducing the costs of technology through standards. Since 1993, ARTS has been delivering application standards exclusively to the retail industry. ARTS has three standards: The Standard Relational Data Model, UnifiedPOS and IXRetail. Membership is open to all members of the international technology community- retailers from all industry segments, application developers and hardware companies.

For more information contact ARTS or 202-626-8140.

For more information on UnifiedPOS or to download a free copy of the standard visit www.nrf-arts.org.


Announcement of UnifiedPOS 1.7 Release

The following appeared in the STORES magazine, July 2002, page 68.

ARTS UPDATE
ARTS Announces Availability of UnifiedPOS Release 1.7
New version completes dream of a single consolidated specification
BY RICHARD E. MADER

In August 1998, a group of retail industry IT leaders met at NCR in Dayton, Ohio, to seek agreement for a common specification for OPOS and JavaPOS. Their goal was to provide retailers with “freedom of choice” in selecting POS peripherals. UnifiedPOS was chartered and, while it has been available since January 1999, the latest version, Release 1.7, completes the dream of a single consolidated specification. (The new specification is available at www.nrf-arts.org.)

Release 1.7 completes the consolidation of the OPOS, JavaPOS and UnifiedPOS specifications into one easier to use version of more than 1,100 pages, including individual chapters for implementing the specification in either OPOS (Windows-based) or JavaPOS.

The single specification also provides clarity by adding easy to understand diagrams for most devices, and it ensures consistency between the two implementations via a single reference guide that decreases the chance of non-conformance which adds time and cost to device installation.

Release 1.7 incorporates two new device categories: Check Scanners and Motion Sensor. The Check Scanners category enables retailers to quickly implement check image scanning at the POS to reduce bad check losses and take advantage of processing checks as debit cards which reduces processing costs and offers customer convenience. The Motion Sensor category permits easier installation of these security devices by allowing connection to the POS terminal. Wiring costs and disruption can be greatly reduced.

Enhancements in Release 1.7 include:

  •  Enabling the printing of bar codes by POS printers;
  •  A completely reworked USB PlusPower connector description;
  •  Updated class diagrams for the line display, POS printer and keylock;
  •  The addition of code page mapping support to line display, pointcard reader, POS printer and remote order displays used extensively in the fast-food segment;
  •  An almost complete rewrite of the OPOS and JavaPOS implementation chapters to fully support elimination of the need to maintain these two previously separate specifications.

For the technically inclined, enhancements include: event registration diagrams, language specific common properties summary tables, language specific programmatic name/class names tables, code page mapping technical information, the addition of the original OPOS control programmers guide and APG change history to the OPOS appendix, and the addition of the original JavaPOS programmers guide change history to the JavaPOS appendix.

The historical significance of UnifiedPOS 1.7 is ample reason to look back at the Dayton meeting attendance list and express our thanks to those attendees for a vision which is now a reality.

I’m pleased to note that six of the 14 original attendees are still active in supporting UnifiedPOS.

Sears, ICL (now Fujitsu Transaction Systems), NCR and Microsoft continue to support UnifiedPOS with representation from other individuals. Joe Smialowski has transferred his talented executive skills to the financial industry, and I bet David Evans (retired) still takes pride every time he hears or reads of the benefits UnifiedPOS has brought to the industry he served for so many years.

Congratulations to everyone!

Richard E. Mader is executive director of ARTS, a division of the National Retail Federation.


Press Release of UnifiedPOS 1.6 Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Krugman/Sarah Scheuer (202) 783-7971
krugmans@nrf.com or scheuers@nrf.com

ARTS Announces Release of UnifiedPOS, Version 1.6

Washington, DC, August x, 2001 -- The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) announced the release of version 1.6 of the Unified Point of Service (UnifiedPOS) device interface specification.

Users of Release 1.6 will experience significant enhancements to the previous interface.

  • Fiscal printer now supports the European requirements for the Euro conversion scheduled for January 1, 2002. This includes special requirements for Bulgaria and Romania.
  • Line Display has been enhanced to support, blink rate, cursor types, defining glyphs and reverse video to support use of Internet graphics on the sales floor by many retailers.
  • A major step towards consolidating the three specifications, UnifiedPOS, OPOS and JavaPOS with two new chapters describing implementations for OPOS and JavaPOS, significantly reducing the workload of those utilizing both. The UnifiedPOS specification supports Linux and other operating systems in a JavaPOS implementation.

“The Technical Committee has done a truly outstanding job with Release 1.6,” said Harry Levy, Executive Vice President of The Men’s Wearhouse and Chairman of the Unified POS Administrative Committee. “The industry owes a round of applause to Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc., Epson, RCS, IBM, Wincor Nixdorf, NCR and all companies who have worked to make 1.6 a significant accomplishment.”

“The changes and enhancements in Release 1.6 are critical to many developers and retailers, and Epson is proud to be both a supporter and a participant in the ARTS UnifiedPOS Initiative,” said Bud Weist, Director, Sales and Marketing, Epson’s S.D. Group.

“Wincor Nixdorf is excited to see the release of Unified POS, version 1.6 in the further development of a worldwide standards for integrating peripherals into POS appliances,” said Heinrich Endeward, head of Retail Services for Wincor Nixdorf. “The enhancements made in the support of a standard definition for fiscal printers, the Linux platform, and full-screen customer displays will enable retailers to extend their business capabilities and better address the needs of their customers on an international level.”

“IBM endorses the UnifiedPOS V 1.6 standard because it gives retailers an open standard to better choose solutions that fit their unique requirements,” said Jocelyn Furniss, Director, Worldwide Marketing of IBM Retail Store Solutions. “We are pleased to have taken part in establishing the 1.6 version of the specification and intend to continue our investments in both JavaPOS and OPOS peripheral support and in working with retailers to provide the best possible POS solutions.”

Work has already begun on Release 1.7 targeted for completion in January 2002. With the anticipated distribution of Release 1.7, UnifiedPOS will no longer publish the separate OPOS and JavaPOS specification documents. Future change requests should be submitted directly to the UnifiedPOS committee for consideration. This Release will complete the consolidation and with the new OPOS and JavaPOS implementation chapters, users of either platform preference will be able to find complete support in the single UnifiedPOS specification.

UnifiedPOS is an open standard. The specification is available on the ARTS web site, www.nrf-arts.org. Requests for enhancements are welcome from anyone following the process described on the Site.

The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) of the National Retail Federation is a retailer-driven membership organization dedicated to creating an international, barrier-free technology environment for retailers. ARTS was established in 1993 to ensure that technology works to enhance a retailer's ability to develop store level business solutions and avoid situations that limit a retailers' ability to implement change while providing industry standards designed to provide greater value at lower costs.


Press Release of UnifiedPOS 1.5 Release

For Release 6:00 a.m. PDT
September 28, 2000

New Application Programming Interface Published by the Association for Retail Technology Standards
OPOS, JavaPOS to support new UnifiedPOS 1.5 Standard

SAN DIEGO – September 28, 2000-The Unified Point Of Service (UnifiedPOS) release 1.5 was announced today by the Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS).   UnifiedPOS is an operating system independent and language neutral application interface to POS Peripheral device specifications. The release defines 21 classes of peripherals, such as printers, scanners, keyboards and displays, used in the retail store POS system environment.  With this Version 1.5 publishing, Unified POS becomes the umbrella specification for both OPOS and JavaPOS, and is already implemented in those specifications, in their simultaneously announced 1.5 versions.

“Each application interface specification will be a compliment to each other,” said Richard Mader, ARTS Chairman.  “With all three specs released at the same time, and both OPOS and JavaPOS meeting the UnifiedPOS specification, it shows substantial industry unity.”

The UnifiedPOS release 1.5 supports many of the features and functionalities requested by retailers and vendors through the ARTS web site as well as recommendations from participating organizations such as OPOS-J (Japan). “With international cooperation, the new release includes the PointCard from Japan, and OPOS-J (Japan) agreement to use UML type documentation enables this new release to feature a more unified documentation style and create a more standardized documentation structure,” said Mader.

"Burger King as a current user of OPOS standards in our POS Systems strongly endorses the continued development and refinement of the UnifiedPOS standards,” said John Polizzi, vice president, MIS at Burger King Corporation. “We believe that this will improve the cooperation between Retailers and System Providers and result in improved products to support our operations and service our customers. We will continue to support this effort through our involvement in the UnifiedPOS program and requiring these standards be followed in our future equipment acquisitions."

"IBM has been committed to customer choices in retail solutions for many years, and has been investing in the establishment of UnifiedPOS as an API standard for Point of Sale since its conception,” said Mike Pierce, vice president of IBM Retail Store Solutions. “Retailers want investment protection, as well as flexible enhancement possibilities for cost-effective solutions for the future. That also is IBM's commitment, so we are delighted to be cooperating with ARTS-NRF in establishing a unified API strategy for integrating innovative technologies for the industry. We will continue to support both the JavaPOS and OPOS standards for our products."

While Release 1.5 is a major enhancement to the previous revision (1.4) of the specification, it strives to maintain backward compatibility. It includes new device classifications including the Point Card Reader Writer, used in Asia Pacific to identify customers and store their loyalty points, and POS Power, a device class to help monitor and react to terminal mains power fluctuations.  The new specification documentation will ease future efforts to incorporate forecourt devices and develop a comprehensive compliance program.

New feature enhancements to existing devices include:

  • MSR Track4 read capability
  • POS Printer functions for both side printing, color printing, and special paper handling functionality for “Mark/Sense” paper
  • Bump Bar
  • Cash Changer
  • Cash Drawer
  • Credit Authorization Terminal

All revised UnifiedPOS documentation has been enhanced through the use of Unified Modeling Language (UML) for clarity and standardization. Release 1.5 is the first step in the process of moving the standards in the direction of conformance testing.  The benefit will be testing the devices to ensure they conform to the specifications and provide greater confidence that interchangeability of peripherals can be accomplished and thereby protect the retailers’ hardware and software investment.

The joint announcement of version 1.5 releases by UnifiedPOS, OPOS and JavaPOS continues to demonstrate the cooperation of competing vendors and retailers to meet in the standards groups with the overall goal to lower the cost of POS hardware and software and provide support for Rapid Application Development methodology.   The Committee that developed release 1.5 includes Epson, Fujitsu-ICL, IBM, Microsoft, NCR, PCMS DataFit, Sun Microsystems, and Wincor-Nixdorf. While working on the UnifiedPOS specification many of the same committee members from USA, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom also upgraded OPOS and JavaPOS.

"OPOS, based on a commitment to the retail industry to driving POS systems costs down, has been the leading standard since 1994.  We're excited that by making this joint announcement supporting a unified set of application interfaces, we're strengthening that original commitment in the spirit of cooperation," said Tom Litchford, retail industry manager for Microsoft Corp.  "Retailers and ISVs alike should continue to reap the rewards through lowered acquisition and development costs, as well as the freedom to mix and match POS hardware from multiple vendors."

"As a standard, JavaPOS has enabled the development of truly portable applications to give retailers more technology choices and options for thin or thick client architectures,” said Bob DeLaney, group manager of world wide market development for Sun Microsystems, Inc.   “The JavaPOS community has been committed to enabling the power of Java development for the point of sale.  Sun has been a proponent of a unified API to assure maximum usefulness for retail, and we are happy to be participating in the release of these concurrent specifications."

Since its inception in July of 1998 UnifiedPOS has been a Retail Industry example of vendor and retailer collaboration for the benefit of the total industry. UnifiedPOS release 1.4 was made available in January of 1999 after only six months of development.  Initially the specification was developed from the existing OPOS and JavaPOS 1.4 versions to unify these two similar but competing standards.  Release 1.5 satisfies the goal of specification before implementation.

About the Association for Retail Technology Standards

The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) of the National Retail Federation is a retailer- driven membership organization dedicated to creating an international, barrier-free technology environment for retailers.  ARTS was established in 1993 to ensure that technology works to enhance a retailer's ability to develop store level business solutions and avoid situations that limit a retailers' ability to implement change while providing industry standards designed to provide greater value at lower costs.

For additional information, contact

Richard Mader, National Retail Federation, arts@nrf.com

Mark Martin, Waggener Edstrom, markm@wagged.com, 503.443.7000
 


Last updated: 2009-12-31

 

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