Model Meta Information embedded in the XML Schema

The information described here applies to all future publications of the VEC Schema (Version > 2.0.1).

Due to the nature of XML Schema and XML files it is not possible to express all specifications, restrictions and additional information of the VEC model (defined as UML model) directly in XML Schema. In particular, these are:

  • Target types for IDREF / IDREFS associations,
  • Uniqueness of collections (bag vs. set semantics),
  • Ordering of collections,
  • Assignment of model elements to packages / namespaces in the model, and
  • Deprecation of model elements.

To overcome this gap, additional meta information, embedded in the XML Schema will be provided for future versions (Version > 2.0.1). The extension is done with the annotation concept provided by XSD (xs:annotation / xs:appinfo see W3C XML Schema Definition Language (XSD) 1.1 Part 1: Structures / 3.15.1 The Annotation Schema Component).

The XSD schema for the content of the xs:appinfo can be downloaded here: model-meta-1.0.0.xsd. The XML target namespace of the meta information is: .


All types defined in the VEC are associated with a namespace, e.g. core, electrical_parts, schematic. This meta information is defined as follows:

    <xs:element name="package" type="meta:Package"/>

    <xs:complexType name="Package">
        <xs:attribute name="name" type="xs:string"/>


In case a model element (class, attribute, association, enumeration, literal etc.) gets deprecated, it will be annotated with deprecated along with further information about the reason for deprecation and the VEC version since when the deprecation is in place. Normally deprecated elements will be removed with the next major release.

    <xs:element name="deprecated" type="meta:Deprecation"/>

    <xs:complexType name="Deprecation">
        <xs:attribute name="reason" type="xs:string"/>
        <xs:attribute name="since" type="xs:string"/>


Meta information for associations / collections is defined as follows:

    <xs:element name="relationship" type="meta:Relationship" />
    <xs:simpleType name="RelationshipType">
        <xs:restriction base="xs:string">
            <xs:enumeration value="Attribute" />
            <xs:enumeration value="Association" />
            <xs:enumeration value="Composition" />

    <xs:complexType name="Relationship">
        <xs:attribute name="element-type" type="xs:QName"/>
        <xs:attribute name="relationship-type" type="meta:RelationshipType" use="required"/>
        <xs:attribute name="unique" type="xs:boolean" default="true"/>
        <xs:attribute name="ordered" type="xs:boolean" default="false"/>

All elements in the model that are defined as an association, with or without composition, and all attributes receive a relationship annotation. Regarding the XML Schema alone, attributes and composite associations have a similar XSD definition. However, the modelling approach in VEC was chosen intentionally and there are subtle differences in semantics in the context of the specification.

The attribute representation is used for primitive types and structured value types (e.g. NumericalValue, Material or Color). Those elements do not have complex substructures and do not have incoming associations. On the other hand, composite associations are used for more complex substructures and elements that are relevant in a larger context (e.g. Slot, Cavity or WireElement).

  • element-type: The schema type of elements referenced by the association as defined in the UML model, to preserve type info for IDREF(S), which will be lost otherwise in native XML schema. Only allowed on IDREF(S) elements.
  • relationship-type: The type of the relationship as defined in the UML model.
  • unique: Defines the collection semantics for elements referencing more than one element. unique=false means that the model allows duplication for this reference. In other words, the same object can be referenced multiple times (bag semantics). unique=true applies when an element should only be referenced once (set semantics). Composite associations can only be unique=true.
  • ordered: Defines that the order of the collection has a semantic meaning and is not just given, because XML is an ordered format by definition.

The attributes of the relationship element are only present if the attribute has a reasonable, non-redundant meaning in the context. ordered or unique for a 0..1 association has questionable value, unique for composites can only be true and element-type is only relevant for IDREF(S) associations, because for composites the information is already contained in the regular schema definition.