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Schema Framework

Schema Framework Overview


The "Schema Framework" is a set of best practices and rules for developing modular and interoperable XML Schemas. The Schema Framework supports a decentralized and distributed set of schema repositories and services. The Framework provides and supports version control, schema normalization, schema management and maintenance, and consistent publishing rules for schema discovery and documentation. The Framework also facilitates the creation of data dictionaries.

Philosophy and Assumptions

The Schema Framework builds on the idea that there are "vertical" and "horizontal" domains in which XML standards can be created. See Scope section for more information.

The Schema Framework recognizes that different applications have different data requirements. These differing requirements are often legitimate. For example, a system used to track terrorists is different than a system to record driver's licenses, both of which are different than a court filing system. As a result, the Framework supports many different schemas that can be used in an interoperable way.

The Schema Framework supports a distributed and decentralized schema framework. No single organization must be in control of all schemas.


From a vertical perspective, the Schema Framework supports XML formats for court, justice, legislative, transcript, and contract information.

From a horizontal perspective, the Schema Framework defines a set of common rules and best practices for creating messages, forms, and documents within each vertical domain in a consistent way.

The intersection of the vertical and horizontal schema results in a common set of building block and primitive schemas. Primitive schemas, for example, include Person, Organization, and Address.


The Schema Framework supports modular XML Schemas that are used as building blocks to build other, more complex schemas, messages, protocols, forms and documents. For example, Person, Organization, and Address schema can be used as building blocks for a more complex Court Filing schema, Juvenile Complaint schema, or Rap Sheet schema.

Modularization facilitates schema reuse and customization as well as code reuse. Modularization also reduces the total size of individual XML formats.


Schemas follow defined rules of construction, some of which are required by the W3C XML Schema specification, some of which are industry best practices, and some of which are conventions and best practices.

Normalization greatly enhances schema use and reuse, schema management, and interoperability.

Version Control

The Schema Framework has a strict version control system. Strict version control enhances interoperability by ensuring that there is a mechanical (programmatic) means of discovering the appropriate schema and validating instance documents based on the schema. Strict version control also makes iterative schema and software development easier.

Schema Repositories

The Schema Framework supports distributed and decentralized Internet-based schema repositories as well as local schema repositories. Schema repositories contain schema documentation and data dictionaries, as well as the schema themselves.

Intellectual Property

Schema are licensed under a modified General Public License. The GPL allows the royalty free use and distribution of schema provided that the rules of the Schema Framework are followed. GPL modifications, for example, provide a legal framework that ensures normalization and version control practices are followed. These practices, in turn, help to ensure interoperability.

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