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Element Declarations
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An element is a portion of the DTD that describes an XML markup tag that can be used in the XML document It defines an XML markup tag, along with the child of the element The child may be other elements, character data, or EMPTY (We ll cover EMPTY later in this chapter) An element is declared within the document type definition by using the following form:
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<!ELEMENT element_name ( names of child elements or character data type )>
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Document Type De nitions
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The element_name is the name of the tag, and its child data are placed within the parentheses Here s the declaration of the customer element, which you used previously in this chapter The customer element consists of seven child elements
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<!ELEMENT customer (name, title, company, address, phone, email, account_number)>
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An element that contains character data is declared similarly, except #PCDATA is placed between the parentheses (PCDATA is an acronym for Parsed Character Data) Here s the way you declare this type of element:
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<!ELEMENT element_name (#PCDATA)>
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For example, the title element of customer contains character data and is declared as follows:
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<!ELEMENT title (#PCDATA)>
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This declaration tells the XML parser that PCDATA is between the opening and closing tags for title:
<title>Manager</title>
In an XML parser, the basic building blocks of an XML document are referred to as nodes An element is one type of node In the case of the customer tag, the child nodes are other elements In the case of the title tag, the child node is referred to as a text node So in the example above, the value of the title child node is Manager Every time you define an element, you define the type of child node It will be other element node(s) or a text node
Specifying the Number of Occurrences in an Element
You can specify the number of times a child element can be used within a parent element by inserting one of three symbols as the last character in the name of the child element These symbols are shown in Table 3-1 Let s say that you declare a customer name as having three child elements, which are first_name, middle_name, and last_name However, not every customer has a middle name Therefore, you need to indicate in the declaration that the middle name is optional Also you want to use only one middle name, should a customer have a middle name(s)
Symbol * + Number of Occurrences Zero to many One to many Zero or one
Table 3-1 Symbols Used to Specify the Number of Occurrences of a Child Element Within a Parent Element
XML Demysti ed
XML developers define middle_name as having zero to one occurrence That is, the customer may have no middle name, or only one middle name but not multiple middle names Reviewing Table 3-1, you ll notice that the question mark is the symbol you use to indicate zero to one occurrence Here s how you write this in the declaration for the middle_name:
<!ELEMENT <!ELEMENT <!ELEMENT <!ELEMENT name (first_name, middle_name , last_name)> first_name (#PCDATA)> middle_name (#PCDATA)> last_name (#PCDATA)>
This declaration of the name and the middle_name enables the XML document to contain the following data You ll notice two customers are entered into this document The first customer doesn t have a middle name and second has one Both are valid However, the first customer name will be invalid if you remove the question mark from the middle_name in the name declaration in the DTD because the first customer doesn t have a middle name
<name> <first_name>Bob</first_name> <last_name>Smith</last_name> </name> <name> <first_name>Bob</first_name> <middle_name>Alex</middle_name> <last_name>Smith</last_name> </name>
We show you a good example of zero to many in our original XML example The customers tag may contain zero to many customer elements You may have a process where you transmit a file every day, whether or not there are any new records There are many business cases where you ll need a positive confirmation that there haven t been any new customers that day Now you can change the business rule a little bit and say that you only want the file transmitted if at least one customer is defined If this is the business rule, then you can change the definition of the customers element so it has one to many customer elements
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