The Humanitarian eXchange Language (HXL) is a project by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that aims at refining data management and exchange for disaster response. Data exchange in this field, which often has to deal with chaotic environments heavily affected by an emergency such as a natural disaster or an armed conflict, still happens mostly manually. The goal of HXL is to contribute to the automatization of many of these processes, saving valuable time for staff in the field and improving the information flow for decision makers who have to allocate resources for response activities. This paper gives an overview of this initiative, which is set to significantly improve information exchange in the humanitarian domain. We introduce the HXL vocabulary, which provides a formal definition of the terminology used in this domain, and an initial set of tools and services that produce and consume HXL data. The HXL system infrastructure is introduced, along with its data management principles. The paper concludes with an outlook on the future of HXL and its role in the humanitarian ecosystem.