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RE: Contexts, Rules and Scalable Schemas (WAS RE: Are people r

  • To: "Bullard, Claude L \(Len\)" <len.bullard@i...>, "Roger L. Costello" <costello@m...>, <xml-dev@l...>
  • Subject: RE: Contexts, Rules and Scalable Schemas (WAS RE: Are people really using Identity constraints specified in XML schema?)
  • From: "Cox, Bruce" <Bruce.Cox@U...>
  • Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004 17:40:55 -0400
  • Thread-index: AcSEot/QsFqe3OrMQ/y+yH4bEMshpg==
  • Thread-topic: Contexts, Rules and Scalable Schemas (WAS RE: Are people really using Identity constraints specified in XML schema?)

r costello xml
You've hit on the most common recurring conflict that I've faced in the
past four years of negotiating DTDs at the USPTO.  While some of us want
context-free (system-independent) DTDs, others want them sharply focused
on specific business issues at hand.  This is similar to, but not the
same as, the document/data dichotomy discussed elsewhere in this forum.
Both poles of this scale have their use.  While top management has seen
the value of capturing patent applications in a  DTD sufficiently
context-free to work for EPO, JPO, WIPO, and USPTO, many of the troops
who have to implement them pull out their hair when confronted with the
resulting abstractions.  A multi-layered enterprise architecture takes
time to implement; it takes time to get all the components in place and
working harmoniously.  We have a lot of reflexes to overcome to realize
the full value of context-independent markup.

Bruce B. Cox
U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

-----Original Message-----
From: Bullard, Claude L (Len) [mailto:len.bullard@i...] 
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2004 11:05 AM
To: Cox, Bruce; Roger L. Costello; xml-dev@l...
Subject: Contexts, Rules and Scalable Schemas (WAS RE:  Are
people really using Identity constraints specified in XML schema?)

It might be fair to say without regard to technology:

o  Schemas are made as context independent as possible 
   to enable them to be applied in more contexts (they scale)

o  Business rules are contexts (semantics don't scale 
   without force being applied.  Use of force is itself, 
   a context-dependent operation with rules).

Value-focused Thinking methods might be applicable here.  One needs to
identify fundamental objectives that are independent.  Dependencies
among these indicate hidden objectives (undiscovered) or that a means
objective (think, sub-goal) has been misapplied as a fundamental


From: Cox, Bruce [mailto:Bruce.Cox@U...]

Are business rules semantics?  I take that question to mean that some
business rules can be fully automated since they are about properties of
data that succumb to, for example, XML Schema data typing, while others
are more problematic and may require methods not easily automated.  In
the case of patent document numbers, the goal would be to "ensure shared
data is recognized" and only then processed for the current purpose. 

I certainly appreciate the benefit of using DTDs with their lack of
content validation.  Without that characteristic, it is unlikely that
the patent offices of the world would have agreed on a common vocabulary
for patent applications and publications.  Now that we are on the verge
of exchanging instances internationally, that characteristic may bite us
by impairing interoperability due to significant variances between the
start and end tags for any given element.

Document numbers are a special case, in that they are critical to
establishing the relationship among patents filed and granted in
different countries.  Accuracy is sufficiently important to be spending
millions of USD a year to correct bad numbers provided by applicants or
other offices.  In this one case, I hope there is some way to express
the validation rules independently of custom code so that we can
describe the rules to each other unambiguously and implement them

With XML Schema data typing, followed by Schematron, what would come
next to cover the residue?  I don't think anything to do with document
numbers can't be automatically validated.


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