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Subject: A question re: using XML validation for ensuring proper units usedin instance document


My group at Pitney Bowes is investigating how best to use unitsML for descriptions of mail items. We are building an XML schema that represents the physical dimensions of a mail item, including width, height, thickness, weight, etc. One of the things we want the schema to ensure is that those who use the schema use one of a set of proper units for a given dimension, e.g., length dimensions can be in, cm, m, yd but not lb or oz.


Our approach for this is to create our own units "database," i.e., an instance document that conforms to unitsML that uses a pattern for the identifiers of the units. This way, we can use standard XML validation for ensuring that appropriate units are used. For example, the identifier for a specified inch unit is "distance-in" and one for a cm unit is "distance-cm." We create specialized measurement types that restrict the identifiers used in a unit attributes to the pattern. This approach means, as far as we can tell, that we will need to always have our own "database."


Question: is there a better way in unitsML where we can use the XML validation feature to ensure that the proper units (i.e., one from a set) are used for a given quantity? If not, is there a way that we could have a "sameAs" description (URL/IRI and units identifier) in the UnitType (e.g.) where we could connect our description of a unit to your standard description of a unit, and so enable applications to leverage information, like conversions, etc, that look to be a part of a bigger and more complete database?



Deborra Zukowski

Pitney Bowes


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