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   Re: [xml-dev] There is a meaning, but it's not in the data alone

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There seems to be missing any notion of the abstract information model from this 

For any application, there is a hypothetical domain model, which is a 
representation of all knowledge of that domain.  It is unlikely to exist in any 
complete realised form, but only in the heads of the experts in that domain.

From this is created and abstract information model, which has the information 
types, structures, relations and mappings for some (hopefully useful) subset of the 

Any application within a domain is a mapping of an AIM to the concrete processes 
and structures of an application language.

For XML based applications, there is a mapping of the abstract data into a concrete 
syntax defined by the XML spec and constraints in a schema language.

Part of this syntax allows the elements in this mapping to be grouped into a 

To me, the best use of the namespace is to identify a particular mapping of the AIM 
to the syntax, not a mapping of a collection of syntax constraints to a document; 
the namespace of an element identifies the AIM of the element.

If I have an element from the UML/XMI namespace then I can create an application 
which will assume that there is some data stored a certain syntax which maps onto 
information in the UM-language that can be manipulated in various ways which appear 
meaningful to users conversant with that language.  This is invariant against 
whether the element is embedded in another document, or what that document's schema 
is (as long as the document is valid against its schema and the schema's definition 
of the element's structure is allowed under the XMI mapping); though such 
contextual information is useful in other terms (for example, on one system I have 
designed, an UML fragment embedded in a change note is used quite differently to 
one embedded in a pattern template, but the fragment's behaviour and meaning are 
the same).

What would you want from a RDDL directory found by resolving the UML/XMI namespace 

Links to every document type that can embed UML/XMI?- impossible
Links to every tool that can process UML/XMI?- difficult
Links to one tool that can process UML/XMI?- political
Links to syntax description languages for UML/XMI?- possible, but the XMI doesn't 
have unique mappings from information to data, so how useful?

It is _very_ hard to define, in a machine readable manner, that a syntactic element 
maps correctly onto a domain knowledge entity.  

It is possible to define, in a machine readable manner, that a syntactic element 
encodes an abstract information model entity.  

If my XML namespace points to something which defines, say, how it encodes a subset 
of the ISO-STEP component assemblies abstract information model, then that is 
potentially _very useful_ and means that any application which is based on that AIM 
and can parse generic XML into its structures (given the mapping) can do useful 
things with it.

(If there are not international standards for AIMs for invoices, then that's a 
different problem ;-)

Pete Kirkham 

(engineering [meta]* modelling pedant)


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