The Ontopia Schema Language

Reference Specification

Published by: Ontopia
Date: $Date: 2007/08/27 06:46:04 $
Version: 3.4 ($Revision: 1.19 $)

Abstract

This document is the specification of the Ontopia Schema Language, providing an exhaustive reference documenting all features of the language. For an introduction to the schema language, see the schema tutorial.

Table of contents

1. Introduction

The Ontopia Schema Language uses an XML syntax defined in a DTD to specify schemas. Schemas written in the language consist of definitions of classes of topics and associations, defining the allowed characteristics of each. Validating a topic map against a schema is done by finding the class definition for each topic and association, and verifying that the instance matches the class definition.

The Ontopia Schema Language has been designed to have a minimal number of features and a minimum of expressive power. We expect to extend its feature set according to user demand, and eventually to replace it with the Topic Map Constraint Language (TMCL) currently being developed within ISO. We have decided not to implement the TMCL before it is finished in order to have a stable schema language as the basis for our product suite.

The Ontopia Schema Language is intended to support many functions within topic map projects, the most important of which are:

2. High-level elements

This section defines the semantics of the high-level elements of the Ontopia Schema Language, element by element.

2.1. The tm-schema element

Summary: The container element for the schema.
Content model: (ruleset | topic | association)*
Parents: None

The tm-schema element must be the document element of all topic map schemas. It has no special semantics, but merely acts as a container for the topic map schema.

The tm-schema element has a single attribute: match, which can have the values loose and strict. When doing loose matching, topics and associations which match none of the specified classes are accepted without complaint. When doing strict matching, such topics and associations are rejected. The default is loose matching.

The allowed children of tm-schema elements are ruleset, topic, and association elements, in any order.

Name Type Required Default Definition
match loose, strict #DEFAULT loose Controls whether the schema uses loose or strict matching.

2.2. The ruleset element

Summary: Contains a set of reusable named constraints.
Content model: (ruleref* , (baseName | occurrence | playing)* )
Parents: tm-schema

The ruleset element is used to specify a set of constraints which can be reused by any topic class definition. Its intent is to allow the specification of reused rules in a single place, improving maintainability and readability of topic map schemas.

The ruleset element must have one, and only one attribute, named id, and containing a unique identifier for the rule set, allowing it to be referenced from topic classes.

The ruleset element may contain any number of ruleref elements, followed by any number of baseName, occurrence, and playing elements.

Name Type Required Default Definition
id ID #REQUIRED   The ID of the ruleset, by which it may be referred to.

2.3. The topic element

Summary: Defines a topic class.
Content model: (instanceOf , otherClass* , (ruleref | superclass)* , (baseName | occurrence | playing)* )
Parents: tm-schema

The topic element defines the constraints applying to topics belonging to a particular class. The element may contain constraints on the characteristics on instances of the class, as well as other kinds of restrictions.

Each topic element must have an instanceOf child, specifying what class of topic is constrained by this rule. Only topics which match this instanceOf element must follow the constraints specified by this topic element.

topic elements may have a match attribute, which may be set to loose or strict. If set to loose base names, occurrences, and roles not matching any of the constraints in the topic class definition are accepted. If set to strict such characteristics will be rejected. The default is strict matching.

The otherClass elements can be used to specify what other classes instances of this topic class may be instances of. If the element is not present instances of this class may not be instances of any other class. If present, instances of this class may only be instances of the classes specified by the element, and not any other classes. [Remark: Need a separate section, I guess.]

The baseName, occurrence, and playing elements specify what characteristics instances of this class may have.

Name Type Required Default Definition
id ID #IMPLIED   The ID of the class by which it may be referred to.
match loose, strict #DEFAULT strict Whether matching of constraints is loose or strict.

2.4. The baseName element

Summary: A constraint on the base names of a topic.
Content model: (scope , variant*)
Parents: topic, ruleset

baseName elements constrain the base names a topic may have. If a base name has scope matching that specified in the scope child element of a baseName element it is validated against that baseName rule.

baseName elements may have min and max attributes specifying the minimum and maximum number of matching base names each topic may have. The default is that any number of matches is allowed.

The variant child element is used to specify what variants a base name may have. Matching of variant names is always strict, so variant names that do not match a rule in the schema are rejected.

Name Type Required Default Definition
max CDATA #DEFAULT Inf The maximum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.
min CDATA #DEFAULT 0 The minimum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.

2.5. The variant element

Summary: A constraint on the variant names of a base name.
Content model: (scope)
Parents: baseName

The variant element is used to constrain the allowed variants of base names. If a variant name has scope matching that specified in the scope child element of a variant element it is validated against that variant rule.

variant elements may have min and max attributes specifying the minimum and maximum number of matching variant names each base name may have. The default is that any number of matches is allowed.

Name Type Required Default Definition
max CDATA #DEFAULT Inf The maximum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.
min CDATA #DEFAULT 0 The minimum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.

2.6. The occurrence element

Summary: A constraint on the occurrences of a topic.
Content model: (instanceOf , scope?)
Parents: topic, ruleset

The occurrence element is used to constrain the possible occurrences a topic may have. If an occurrence has a type matching that specified by the instanceOf child it is validated against that occurrence rule.

The occurrence element may also have min and max attributes. The internal attribute may be set to yes (meaning that matching occurrences must be internal), no (meaning that matching occurrences must be external), or either, meaning that they may be either.

If the occurrence element has a scope child element the scope of each occurrence is matched against that specified in the scope child.

Name Type Required Default Definition
internal yes, no, either #DEFAULT either Whether the occurrence must be internal or external, or whether it can be both.
max CDATA #DEFAULT Inf The maximum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.
min CDATA #DEFAULT 0 The minimum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.

2.7. The playing element

Summary: Defines a constraint on the roles a topic may play in associations.
Content model: (instanceOf , in?)
Parents: topic, ruleset

The playing element is used to constrain what roles a topic may play in associations. If an association role has a type matching that specified in the instanceOf child it is validated against the playing rule.

The playing element may have min and max attributes constraining the cardinality of matching association roles.

The playing element may have an in child, which specifies what types of associations the association roles may be part of. The in element may contain any number of instanceOf elements. As long as the containing association matches one of those elements the association role is accepted.

Name Type Required Default Definition
max CDATA #DEFAULT Inf The maximum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.
min CDATA #DEFAULT 0 The minimum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.

2.8. The association element

Summary: Defines an association class.
Content model: (instanceOf , scope? , role+)
Parents: tm-schema

The association element is used to define the structure of a class of associations. Any association which matches the instanceOf child of an association element is validated against the rule specified by that element.

The scope element can be used to define what scopes are allowed for associations of this class. If the element is not present, all scopes are allowed. If present, the scope of all associations must match that specified.

The association roles in the association will be validated against the role children of the association element. Roles that do not match any role element will be rejected.

The association element has no attributes.

2.9. The role element

Summary: Contains a constraint on the association roles in an association.
Content model: (instanceOf , player*)
Parents: association

The role element is used to constrain the association roles that may appear inside an association. The instanceOf child is used to specify the type matched by the role element, and all association roles that match the instanceOf element will be matched against the role element.

The role element may have min and max attributes, which specify the number of matches that are allowed within each association.

The player child element is used to specify what classes of topics are allowed to play this role in an association. Topics are matched against the player element in the same way they are matched against the instanceOf element. (See the section on that element for details.) To specify that instances of more than one class may play a role, use more than one player element.

Name Type Required Default Definition
max CDATA #DEFAULT Inf The maximum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.
min CDATA #DEFAULT 0 The minimum number of matches allowed on this constraint for each instance of the class.

3. Low-level elements

This section defines the semantics of the low-level elements of the Ontopia Schema Language.

3.1. The ruleref element

Summary: A reference to a ruleset that is to be included in a topic class.
Content model: EMPTY
Parents: topic, ruleset

The ruleref element is used to refer to ruleset elements in the same schema. The element has a rule attribute, which contains the ID of the ruleset element being referenced. All the constraints contained in that ruleset element are then included in the set of constraints defined by the ruleset or topic element that contains the ruleref element.

It is an error for the ruleref element to refer to an ID that does not exist in the schema.

Name Type Required Default Definition
rule IDREF #REQUIRED   The ID of the ruleset being referred to.

3.2. The superclass element

Summary: Refers to the superclass of the topic class being defined.
Content model: EMPTY
Parents: topic

The superclass element is used to declare that a class must be a subclass of another. The validator will use this information to check that the topic representing the class actually is a subclass of the referred-to superclass. The superclass is identified by referring to the topic class definition that corresponds to the superclass topic.

Name Type Required Default Definition
ref IDREF #REQUIRED   The ID of the superclass topic class definition.

3.3. The player element

Summary: Controls the allowed types of the topic that may play a particular role in an association.
Content model: (topicRef | subjectIndicatorRef | internalTopicRef | any)?
Parents: role

Used inside role elements to specify the allowed classes of topics that may play a given role in an association. Its semantics are otherwise the same as those for instanceOf.

Name Type Required Default Definition
subclasses yes, no #DEFAULT yes Whether subclasses of the specified types are accepted or not.

3.4. The instanceOf element

Summary: Specifies the type of a topic map object.
Content model: (topicRef | subjectIndicatorRef | internalTopicRef | any)?
Parents: topic, role, occurrence, in, scope, playing, association

The instanceOf element is used to match topic map objects by their type. The contents of the element specify what topic is allowed as the type of the objects to be matched. If the element is empty it means that the object must have no type in order to match.

The subclasses attribute is used to control whether instances of subclasses should match or not. If it is set to yes they do match, and if set to no they do not. The default is that subclasses do match.

The topicRef, subjectIndicatorRef, internalTopicRef, and any child elements are used to specify the type of the topic map object.

Name Type Required Default Definition
subclasses yes, no #DEFAULT yes Whether instances of subclasses are accepted.

3.5. The scope element

Summary: Controls the allowed scope of a topic characteristic.
Content model: (topicRef | subjectIndicatorRef | internalTopicRef | any | instanceOf)*
Parents: baseName, variant, occurrence, association

The scope element is used to constrain (or match) the scopes of topic map objects. The contents of the element specify what topics are allowed as themes in the scope. If the element is empty it means that the object must be in the unconstrained scope to match.

The match attribute is used to specify how the scope of the topic map object is matched against that specified in this element. If set to exact every topic mentioned in the scope element must be present, and no topics that are not specified are allowed. If set to superset some or all of the topics specified may be left out, but no extra topics are allowed. If set to subset no topics may be left out, but the ones specified must at least be present.

The topicRef, subjectIndicatorRef, internalTopicRef, and any child elements are used to specify the themes that may appear in the scope. The instanceOf element is also allowed as a child of the scope element, and if present it states that all topics that match the instanceOf element are allowed as themes in the scope.

Name Type Required Default Definition
match subset, superset, exact #DEFAULT exact Controls how the specified scope is matched against the scope of actual topic characteristics.

3.6. The topicRef element

Summary: Identifies a topic by its source locator.
Content model: EMPTY
Parents: instanceOf, player, otherClass, scope

The topicRef element is used to match topics by their source locators. The href attribute contains a URI (resolved relative to that of the current entity), and topics which have that URI as their source locator will match, while no other topics will.

Name Type Required Default Definition
href CDATA #REQUIRED   The URI that is the source locator of the topic.

3.7. The subjectIndicatorRef element

Summary: Identifies a topic by its subject indicator.
Content model: EMPTY
Parents: instanceOf, player, otherClass, scope

The subjectIndicatorRef element is used to match topics by their subject indicators. The href attribute contains a URI (resolved relative to that of the current entity), and topics which have that URI as their subject indicator will match, while no other topics will.

Name Type Required Default Definition
href CDATA #REQUIRED   The URI that is the subject indicator.

3.8. The internalTopicRef element

Summary: Identifies a topic by its source locator.
Content model: EMPTY
Parents: instanceOf, player, otherClass, scope

The internalTopicRef element is used to match topics by their source locators. The href attribute contains a URI (resolved relative to the base address of the topic map), and topics which have that URI as their source locator will match, while no other topics will.

Name Type Required Default Definition
href CDATA #REQUIRED   The URI that is the source locator of the topic.

3.9. The any element

Summary: Any topic.
Content model: EMPTY
Parents: instanceOf, player, otherClass, scope

The any element matches any topic and is used as a wildcard in matching.

The any element has no attributes.

3.10. The player element

Summary: Controls the allowed types of the topic that may play a particular role in an association.
Content model: (topicRef | subjectIndicatorRef | internalTopicRef | any)?
Parents: role

Used inside role elements to specify the allowed classes of topics that may play a given role in an association. Its semantics are otherwise the same as those for instanceOf.

Name Type Required Default Definition
subclasses yes, no #DEFAULT yes Whether subclasses of the specified types are accepted or not.