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Representing Data with XML. September 27, 2005 Shawn Henry with slides from Neal Arthorne. Data Representation. Design goals for data representation: Portable (platform independent) Easy for machines to process Human legible Flexible and usable over the Internet and other networks

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representing data with xml

Representing Data with XML

September 27, 2005

Shawn Henry

with slides from Neal Arthorne

data representation
Data Representation
  • Design goals for data representation:
    • Portable (platform independent)
    • Easy for machines to process
    • Human legible
    • Flexible and usable over the Internet and other networks
    • Concisely defined with formal rules
extensible markup language
Extensible Markup Language
  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) defines the Extensible Markup Language (XML)
    • W3C also defined HTML, CSS, HTTP, SVG and other markup languages
    • XML Working group formed in 1996
    • XML 1.0 (Third Edition) 4 February 2004 (original Recommendation in 1998)
xml example




XML Example

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>


<pizzatitle=“Deluxe Pizza”>

<name>The Deluxe</name>






<topping>tomato sauce</topping>





  • XML documents should be well-formed (syntax, closing tags etc)
  • XML documents are valid if they conform to a specified grammar (usually DTD or XML Schema)
  • DTDs (Document Type Definitions) provide a grammar for the XML by defining elements, attributes and entities
xml advantages
XML Advantages
  • XML provides:
    • Logical structure for data in a textual representation
    • Formal rules for validating documents
    • Flexibility to define your own markup language
    • Portability across networks and platforms
    • Becoming a widely accepted data interchange format
    • Processed with off-the-shelf tools
xml disadvantages
XML Disadvantages
  • XML drawbacks:
    • Not a binary format so it requires a lot of overhead for a little bit of data
    • Very little support for binary or mixed media data formats (hex or base64 encoding)
    • Only for data and holds no semantics or reasoning
  • DTDs do not provide:
    • Data types for each element or attribute
    • Complex structural rules for documents
xml schema
XML Schema
  • XML Schema defines a new schema language to replace DTD
  • Standardized by W3C in 2001
  • Advantages:
    • Provides data typing and logical structure
    • Written in XML (easy to process)
    • Higher complexity than DTD
xml schema example

Element name

Data type

Attribute name

Data type

XML Schema Example

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="">

<xsd:element name="pizza">



<xsd:element name="name" type="xsd:string" />

<xsd:element name="toppings" type="Toppings" />

<xsd:element name="price" type="xsd:float" />


<xsd:attribute name="title" type="xsd:string" />



<xsd:complexType name="Toppings">


<xsd:element name="topping" minOccurs="1" maxOccurs="unbounded" type="xsd:string" />




  • An XML document is an ‘instance document’ of an XML Schema
simple types
Simple Types
  • Simple Types are of three varieties:
    • Atomic: Built-in or derived, e.g.

<xsd:simpleType name="myInteger">

<xsd:restriction base="xsd:integer">

<xsd:minInclusive value="10000"/>

<xsd:maxInclusive value="99999"/>



    • List: multiple items of the same type

<listOfMyInt>20003 15037 95977 95945</listOfMyInt>

    • Union: Union or two or more Simple Types
built in types
Built-in Types
  • XML Schema defines numerous built-in types:
    • integer, decimal, token, byte, boolean, date, time, short, long, float, anyURI, language
  • Facets can be used to restrict existing types:
    • min/maxInclusive, min/maxExclusive, pattern, enumeration, min/maxLength, length, totalDigits, fractionDigits
complex types
Complex Types
  • Complex Types define logical structures with attributes and nested elements
  • They use a sequence, choice or all containing elements that use Simple Types or other Complex Types
  • May reference types defined elsewhere in the schema or imported using import statement
in the schema of things
In the Schema of Things
  • XML Schema supersedes DTD
  • Defines a typed data format with no semantics or relations between data
  • Next step: higher level of abstraction and the ability to define objects and relations
resource description framework
Resource Description Framework
  • W3C standard for describing resources on the World Wide Web (1999, revised 2004)
  • Objects identified by Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs)
    • Generalized to identify objects that may not be retrievable on the Web
  • RDF represented by a directed graph and in XML syntax
rdf example
RDF Example

  • In English: has the full name Federico Diaz and has an employer called Fisher and Sons.

Federico Diaz

rdf parts
RDF Parts
  • Each RDF statement is a triple containing a subject(identifier by URI), a predicate(e.g. creator, title, full name) and an object
  • An object can be either a literal value (e.g. Federico Diaz) or another RDF resource
  • All three parts can be identified with an URI and fragment identifier #
rdf semantics
RDF Semantics
  • RDF attaches no specific meaning to RDF statements – just like the name of a database field is meaningless to an SQL engine
  • RDF does provide a way to attach data types to literal values, but RDF does not define data types
  • Generally RDF software uses the XML Schema data types
    • <size rdf:datatype=“xsd#int”>10</size>
  • Arbitrary XML can also be used as a literal
    • <x:prop rdf:parseType="Literal“> <a:size>10</a:size></x:prop>
rdf schema
RDF Schema
  • RDF Schema is a ‘vocabulary description language’ that relates resources to each other using RDF
  • RDFS uses ‘classes’ of objects like in Object-Oriented (OO) systems
  • Class properties relate to other classes using OO concepts such as generalization
rdf schema use
RDF Schema Use
  • Differs from OO in that Properties are defined in terms of the resources to which they apply (their domain) – they are not restricted to the scope of a single class
    • domain: Classes to which a Property applies
    • range: The Class of a Property (i.e. type)
  • Allows new Properties to be created that apply to the same domain without redefining the domain
rdfs classes
RDFS Classes
  • Classes introduced by RDFS:
    • Resource - top level class
    • Literal – all literal values like text strings
    • Class – the class of all classes
    • Datatype – top level RDF datatype
  • Properties introduced by RDFS:
    • subClassOf
    • subPropertyOf
    • domain – domain of a Property
    • range – range of a Property
    • label, comment, seeAlso – human readable labels


rdfs example
RDFS Example

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE rdf:RDF [<!ENTITY xsd "http://www.w3.or/2001/XMLSchema#">]>





<rdfs:Class rdf:ID="Food"/>

<rdfs:Class rdf:ID="Pizza">

<rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Food"/>


<rdfs:Class rdf:ID="Topping">

<rdfs:subClassOf rdf:resource="#Food"/>


<rdfs:Datatype rdf:about="&xsd;float"/>

<rdf:Property rdf:ID="hasTopping">

<rdfs:domain rdf:resource="#Pizza"/>

<rdfs:range rdf:resource="#Topping"/>


<rdf:Property rdf:ID="price">

<rdfs:domain rdf:resource="#Pizza"/>

<rdfs:range rdf:resource="&xsd;float"/>



rdf example1
RDF Example

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<!DOCTYPE rdf:RDF [<!ENTITY xsd "">]>

<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf=""



<ex:Pizza rdf:ID="ShawnsPizza">



<ex:hasTopping rdf:resource=""/>

<ex:hasTopping rdf:resource=""/>



rdf rdfs
  • Lets authors create vocabularies of Classes and Properties and show how the terms should be used to describe resources, e.g.
    • Property ‘author’ applies to class ‘Book’
    • Class ‘Employee’ is a subclass of ‘Person’
  • Does not define descriptive properties such as ‘dateOfIssue’ or ‘title’ but references them using URIs
  • Like in XML/XML Schema, an RDF instance document can be validated against its RDF Schema
machines understanding the web
Machines Understanding the Web
  • RDF/RDFS along with XML/XML Schema provide a means to describe resources on the web with basic generalization
  • For a higher conceptual level, applications require semantic information
  • Ontologies serve as a starting point for understanding
ontologies on the web
Ontologies on the Web
  • “Ontologies define the terms used to represent an area of knowledge.” – OWL Use Cases & Requirements, 2004
  • Example use cases:
    • A web portal that needs to classify information
    • Multimedia archive that requires a taxonomy of media or content-specific properties
    • Corporate portal website that integrates vocabularies from different departments
web ontology language owl
Web Ontology Language (OWL)
  • Supersedes DAML+OIL
    • DARPA Agent Markup Language (DAML) was based on RDF/RDFS and includes much of what is now OWL
  • Adds terms used to better describe relations between classes of RDF resources
  • With OWL, ontologies can be integrated, extended and shared
web ontology language
Web Ontology Language
  • Individuals
    • OWL does not honour the Unique Names Assumption (UNA)
  • Properties
    • Binary relations between individuals
    • Functional, transitive or symmetric
  • Classes
    • Sets containing individuals
    • Organized into a taxonomy with subclasses and superclasses
three flavours of owl
Three Flavours of OWL
  • OWL Lite
    • For classification hierarchies with simple constraints
  • OWL DL
    • Expressiveness with computational completeness
  • OWL Full
    • Maximum expressiveness
    • No computational guarantees
    • Extension of RDF
owl features
OWL Features
  • OWL improvements on RDF/RDFS:
    • Cardinality
      • min/maxCardinality for Properties with respect to a Class
    • Equality, disjointness
      • equivalentClass, equivalentProperty, sameAs, differentFrom, disjointWith
    • Transitive, Symmetric, Functional Properties
      • labelling a Property allows for reasoning
        • A has B and B has C implies A has C (Transitive)
        • A has B implies B has A (Symmetric)
owl features cont d
OWL Features (cont’d)
  • Boolean expressions of Class relations
    • unionOf, complementOf, intersectionOf
  • Property restrictions
    • Limits how properties can be used by an instance of a class
  • Versioning
    • priorVersion, versionInfo, incompatibleWith, backwardCompatibleWith


Conceptual level reasoning – ‘smart’ applications


Knowledge processing and reasoning


RDF Schema

Resource description and vocabulary




XML Schema

Data formatting and data types

Unicode/ISO byte streams

Machine data representation

  • World Wide Web Consortium
  • XML
  • XML Schema Part 0: Primer
  • RDF Primer
  • RDF Concepts
  • RDF/XML Syntax
  • RDF Schema
  • OWL Use Cases & Requirements
  • OWL Overview