GWS Splinter: XSD Schema Evolution

Paul Harrison paul.harrison at
Fri Jul 3 10:01:07 CEST 2015

> On 2015-07 -02, at 22:44, Mark Taylor <M.B.Taylor at> wrote:
> Hi grid,
> I'm not sure if this should be part of the UWS 1.1 RFC or part of
> the "XSD Schema Evolution" discussions within the GWS WG,
> so I'm posting it to the grid list anyway.
> I wasn't in the schema evolution splinter meeting at Sexten,
> but I see this summary, which basically looks like good sense:

actually you can see this fleshed out into a first draft at

> On Thu, 18 Jun 2015, Brian Major wrote:
>> Hi grid,
>> I'm happy to say that the discussion on XSD schema evolution resulted in
>> agreement on method.  In a nutshell:
>> 1.  Clients are do to best-effort parsing (discourage schema validation)
>> 2.  The XSD namespace is to be that of the major revision (x.0)
>> 3.  For version discovery, the precise version shall be included in the
>> root element of the XSD and XML documents.
>> 4.  Tests & validators are still to use XML validation
>> Paul Harrison has graciously offered to write up a note on our discussions
>> that will be sent out for review.
>> Brian
> But I can see at least one negative consequence of this, and I'm not
> sure whether it's intended.
> Looking at the UWS 1.1 PR currently in RFC, I see the preamble to
> Appendix B (the schema):
>   "Note that this schema can be found on-line at
> (i.e. the target namespace can also
>    be used as a URL for the schema.) This location should represent the
>    definitive source, the schema is reproduced below only for completeness
>    of this document."
> That text, and the URL, have not changed since UWS 1.0, but the
> content of the schema has.  I think this is in accordance with the
> schema evolution manifesto above.
> Now the namespace stays the same between versions, but the
> content of the schema at the standard URL holding the schema
> changes at the epoch when the new version is Recommended.
> That means that UWS documents that are
> currently valid relative to the schema with the namespace
>, retrievable from
>, may, following adoption of
> UWS 1.1 as per the current PR, become invalid.
> It's not the same schema between 1.0 and 1.1, but it's pretty
> hard to work out how to refer to it in a way that makes that clear.
> I haven't been through the diff of the 1.0 and 1.1-PR versions
> of the schema with a fine toothcomb, but I can see at least
> one incompatibility: in the 1.1-PR version, the "version"
> attribute of the job and jobs elements is required, so
> older instances of this document (which lack that attribute)
> are invalid against the new version of the schema.
> Is this the intention, or at least an acknowledged consequence
> of the schema evolution manifesto?
> Note that not all schema changes need be harmful in this way
> (invalidating previously valid document instances).
> For instance the introduction of the new ARCHIVED ExecutionPhase
> enumeration element in UWS does not invalidate any old XML instance.
> The "version" attribute could be de-fanged in this respect by
> making it optional in the 1.1 schema.  Would it be a good idea
> to:
>   (a) make the job/jobs "version" attribute optional in UWS 1.1
>       (its absence could reasonably be interpreted as intending v1.0)
>   (b) try to ensure that other UWS 1.0->1.1 changes are similarly
>       harmless as far as invaliadating existing 1.0 documents go
>       (I'm not sure if this is in fact feasible)
> and generally adopt these practices for minor version updates of
> other schemas?

This anomaly comes about in trying to make the transition to the new “rules” for schema evolution for UWS.
The intention being that the version attribute is the way to distinguish between minor versions of the standard, and 
therefore because of its importance it was made mandatory in the 1.1 schema. However, I can see that this
does itself break the rule that we had laid down of not introducing mandatory new elements/attributes.

I think that perhaps the best way to solve this is to make it formally optional in the schema, but in the standard document
make it a “must” for the server to use. In the next major revision of the standard, it can be made mandatory.

The issue affects UWS because it did not include a version attribute from the start - some other standards - e.g. VOTable have done.

> If the answer is just: we really don't care about schema validation
> any more so ignore invalid documents, that's OK, but I'd just
> like to check that's it.  (That would make life a bit more fiddly
> for the "Tests & validators" in item 4 above, but probably it's
> manageable).
> Mark
> PS apologies if this was all thrashed out in Sexten and the answers
>   are all ready to read in Paul's impending Note
I think that having XML validation continue to work in as many cases as possible is important, and you have brought up a pertinent issue with the version attribute.


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