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What is Data Format Description Language (DFDL)?

What is Data Format Description Language developed?

– DFDL or Data Format Description Language was originally known as the open grid forum.
– Presently, it is defined as a modeling language that is used to give a description of general text as well as binary data in a standardized way.
– Using a data format description language, one can read or parse any binary data or text in its native format and can be very well presented as the information set’s instance.
– Also, it allows the user to take the data from an already existing instance of an information set and serialize it or write it out in its native format.
– Some people mistake data format description language as being prescriptive but this is false, the language is descriptive.
– DFDL is not considered to be a data format nor use of any data format is imposed up on by the DFDL.
– It provides a standardized way of describing various types of data formats.

Advantages of this approach

There are several advantages of this approach.
– Firstly, it enables the author of the application to design a data representation as per his/ her needs and at the same time providing a standard description which is share-able.
– This enables direct interchange of the data among multiple programs.
– This advantage is achieved by DFDL by means of W3C XML schema 1.0.
– The subset of this schema that is used is sufficient for the purpose of modeling the non – XML data.
– This approach is motivated so as to avoid the invention of a whole new schema language that is complete and binary data and general text can be easily converted in to XML document through an information set belonging to DFDL.

Why was Data Format Description Language developed?

– The data format description language was developed in response to the requirement of grid APIs so that the data can be understood without being concerned with its source.
– A language was needed that could model a wide variety of existing data formats as well as text and thus data format description language was born.
– The global grid forum saw the establishment of a working group in the year of 2003 for the creation of specifications for that language.
– It was decided to build the language based on the W3C XML schema subset using certain annotations so that the extra necessary info could be carried for describing he physical representations that do not belong to XML class.
– This approach has been in commercial use since long back and has been evolved in to an open standard by DFDL using which many binary data and texts can be described.
– The work that was continued on the specifications was culminated as the OGF proposed recommended in DFDL 1.0 publication in the year of 2011.
– Today, it is possible to implement the DFDL processors which can serialize and parse the data using appropriate schemas.
– IBM released a product last year by the name of web sphere message broker which consisted of a modeler, a graphical mapper and a DFDL 1.0 streaming parser.
– All the issues regarding the specifications have been documented in the errata document.
– With DFDL you get the option of using the compact syntax. Here the properties are carried on XML schema objects as the non – native attributes.

The DFDL 1.0 includes the support for the following:
1. Text data types like zoned decimals, Booleans, calendars, numbers and strings.
2. Binary data types like packed decimals, BCD, calendars, Booleans etc.
3. Data delimitation
4. Fixed length data
5. Language data structures
6. Industry standards like SWIFT, FIX, X12, EDIFACT, CSV, HL7, HIPAA, ISO8583 and so on.
7. Endian – ness and encoding
8. Arbitrary length bit data
9. Bi – directional text
10.Pattern languages
11.Floating, ordered and unordered content

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