No other technology has drawn so much attention in so little time, in both the academic and the business arena, as the universal data exchange format XML – the eXtensible Markup Language. Almost every week a new language based on XML or an XML tool is introduced. Some of the announcements and advertisements of suppliers convey the impression that XML marks the beginning of a whole new era in computation. When taking a closer look one discovers that the underlying concepts are neither new nor support euphoric or over-optimistic expectations. Nevertheless, it is beyond dispute that XML will play an important role in many companies in the near future. This development is instigated by the rapidly spreading use of XML for defining exchange formats in e-business and the increasing number of cheap or even free-of-charge tools that support creating, managing and processing XML documents including, for example, concepts and tools that allow for a tight integration of XML with HTML and Java.We first show the use and importance of (electronic) documents in business processes within, and especially across the boundaries of, a company. From there we motivate the general usefulness of a common language for describing documents in a uniform way and hence making it easier to exchange documents between different participants in processes, e.g. computer applications and human agents. We then elaborate on the existing approaches of enriching XML with business semantics, xCBL and cXML. We go on arguing that these are not applicable in many cases and sugggest a process-oriented method for the effective use of XML.