Data Format Description Language (DFDL)

Data Format Description Language (DFDL) 1.0 is a modeling language from the Open Grid Forum that is used to define the structure of general text and binary formatted data in a way that is independent of the data format. It is based on XML Schema 1.0.

DFDL is a way of describing the data. It is not a data format. DFDL can describe many data formats, including:
  • Textual and binary
  • Commercial record-oriented
  • Scientific and numeric
  • Modern and legacy
  • Industry standards
DFDL schema files use XML Schema objects, and annotations on those objects to define the data.
  • The XML Schema objects define the logical format of the data. You cannot use XML attributes in the data model.
  • DFDL schema annotations describe the physical format of the data.
  • XPath expressions are used to reference fields within the data.

DFDL is not intended to be used to model XML documents. Use normal XML Schema files to model XML.

For a simple example, see Example DFDL schema.

Support for DFDL

Support for DFDL in this product includes:
Not all features of the DFDL 1.0 specification are supported, and this implementation has some limitations. See the following topics:

Further information about DFDL 1.0

For more information about DFDL, see the Open Grid Forum (OGF) website.

A navigable copy of the DFDL v1.0 Specification is included with this information. The latest published specification is on the OGF website, in HTML and PDF formats. The specification is produced by the OGF DFDL Working Group. The specification is an OGF Proposed Recommendation; see the OGF document repository for any published errata.

The OGF document repository also contains a DFDL tutorial, comprising a number of PDF files. IBM have several DFDL modeling scenarios available on developerWorks®.