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RE: [xml-dev] What does "optional" mean?

A patent application MUST disclose the invention in order to get a filing date; EVERYTHING else is optional at that stage.  However, before it can be examined, the application must have a long list of characteristics, including the inventor's name and mailing address.  Before an application can be allowed, certain other items become REQUIRED, and before publication, there must be evidence that the publication fee has been paid.  Some information in the published disclosure is not provided by the applicant, but by the Office.  The schema used at different stages for the same application will have a different mix of optional and required elements, or not even contain some elements at one stage that appear at a later stage, and even a few that disappear at the final stage.

Conversion of our legacy data usually requires a very relaxed schema, since over time, the trend has been to require more information, not less, from an applicant, and to publish more, not less, in the disclosure.  So, when converting from various ages in the past, the target schema will almost certainly contain every element needed for every age, but all but a handful will be declared optional.  Systems that process the legacy data might have to provide for the appropriate constraints based on the age of the document, while still working within a standard schema that is hardly more than a lattice work.

Bruce B Cox
OCIO/AED/Software Architecture and Engineering Division

-----Original Message-----
From: Rudder, Doug Jr [mailto:Doug.Rudder@wolterskluwer.com] 
Sent: 2012 February 27, Monday 13:47
To: Costello, Roger L.; xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] What does "optional" mean?

The answer can be very simple. For example, I work in drug information.
We have a standard section dealing with drug abuse/dependency, which is a vitally important section *when it applies*. However, many drugs are not problematic in this regard and the element is not necessary in those instances. Therefore, it is an optional element for a drug monograph.

Honestly, I've yet to see a DTD/Schema that did not contain optional elements, all of them important, but only within their intended context as described above.

To answer your revised question within the context of drug information, there are elements (e.g., Indications, Adverse Reactions) that are always mandatory in our monographs, but other elements (a variety of warnings and precautions) that, while common enough and important enough to warrant a "named" element, are not relevant to every single drug monograph and are therefore optional.

Another good example would be Black Box Warnings. This is potentially life-or-death information, but is optional because many drugs do not have them.

-----Original Message-----
From: Costello, Roger L. [mailto:costello@mitre.org]
Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2012 10:16 AM
To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] What does "optional" mean?

> I would agree with David Carlisle.
> In schema,  "optional" doesn't mean ANY of the items you suggest.

Yes, I stand corrected. Despite my best efforts, how quickly and easily I fall into the trap of ascribing meaning to constructs in schemas.

Let me rephrase my question: 

       Why make one element mandatory 
      and another optional?

That is, what is it about some information that it is declared mandatory whereas another information is declared optional?



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