Source for writing DTD

David Megginson david at
Tue Jul 20 21:29:14 BST 1999

Satya.Rao at writes:

 > I would like to define DTD for my domain.
 > 1.  Where can I get idea about the design of DTD?
 > 2.  Is it good idea to write DTD or DTD schemas?

It's a good idea to write down what you need in semi-formal, human
readable prose first.  For example, you might use a standard table
with several fields to fill in, or even UML.  Most of your target
customers won't know DTD syntax or XML Schema, so you'll need to
present the information in a form that they can understand.

Once you've done that (and it's easily 90 per cent of the work),
actually writing a DTD, XML-Schema, or both is a matter of
representing your ideal model within the limits of DTD and/or XML
Schema capabilities.

Eve Maler and Jeanne El Andaloussi describe one possible business
approach for designing abstract models in their book DEVELOPING SGML
DTDS: FROM TEXT TO MODEL TO MARKUP (ISBN 0-13-309881-8); don't feel
bound by the exact details of their process, but reading the book
should give you a good idea of what you're up against.  The really
hard part is finding all of the requirements and getting buy-in from
the target customers (this is what SGML/XML consultants generally
spend most of their time doing).

When you're ready to actually write the DTD or other schema, you can
take a look at my own book, STRUCTURING XML DOCUMENTS (ISBN
0-13-642299-3) to learn about some of the decisions and trade-offs
involved in document type design.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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