Markup Vocabulary Ecosystems symposium logo

Markup Vocabulary Ecosystems
a Balisage pre-conference symposium

Symposium chair: Jeff Beck, US National Library of Medicine

Monday, July 30, 2017

Monday 7:30 am - 9:00 am

Registration & Continental Breakfast

Pick up your conference badge and join us for a light breakfast.

Monday 9:00 am - 9:15 am

Introductions, Greetings, and Announcements

Monday 9:15 am - 10:00 am

Transcending Structure: Applying Shared Markup Vocabularies with Your Friends and Enemies

Jeff Beck, US National Library of Medicine

Markup makes it easier to share. We share documents with our peers, our partners, and even our competitors. Communities of interest form, they define document structures, test them in practice, and affirm them by adoption. Joining a community has obvious advantages: reduced development costs, ease of interchange, tried and tested tools, and an available pool of authors, editors, and developers already familiar with the vocabulary.

Over time, the pace of vocabulary evolution slows naturally. The major structures are developed, applied, tested, and accepted. New structures are added more slowly, and more reluctantly. The community has transitioned into maintenance mode where large scale refactorings and backwards-incompatible changes are known to have burdonsome costs and “best practices” are known to make sharing easier.

What can the “Markup Community in General” do to support these stricter best practices communities?

Monday 10:00 am - 10:30 am

Organizational and Funding Options for Markup Vocabulary Creation and Maintenance

Todd Carpenter, NISO

There are many ways to create a markup vocabulary and many forums in which it can be done. Creating and maintaining markup vocabularies requires significant ongoing volunteer time and effort, significant funding, or both. In light of this, it often makes sense for a multi-institution group to undertake the creation and management process, particularly when interchange is a goal. The community has examples of this consensus model, such as the TEI (which was created by a grant-supported project and is maintained by a consortium created for the purpose) and the STS (which was originally a derivative of JATS, further developed by ISO, and then donated to NISO for the establishment of consensus and for maintenance). Selection of an organizational home and source of funding can have marked effects on vocabularies. The organizational structure affects representation, who has a voice in the process, intellectual property concerns (e.g., patents, copyrights, other standards), and decision making policies. Costs involved in creating and maintaining markup vocabularies begin at conception and continue through development into maintenance and promotion. These costs include editing, hosting, publishing and distribution, and management of the standards process. Real-world examples of the organization and funding of successful markup vocabularies will provide patterns others may find useful.

Monday 10:30 am - 11:00 am

Coffee Break

Monday 11:00 am - 11:45 pm

Value to community of shared vocabularies

to be announced

Monday 11:45 pm - 12:15 pm

Field guide to markup vocabulary ecosystems

Tommie Usdin & Tonya Gaylord, Mulberry Technologies

The materials that support a markup vocabulary are many and varied. Some vocabularies define a single document type, many actually define a group of related document types. Many, but not all, are supported by schemas in some specific syntax. Many, but not all, are “standards” endorsed by a standards development organization. There is usually a list of tags associated with names and descriptions and there is often other documentation. There may be examples, implementation advice, and subsets or profiles for particular uses. Tools may be provided to support vocabulary subsetting, content creation, checking, manipulation, and display. There may be vocabulary-specific electronic discussion groups, tutorials, and even conferences. Some of the collateral may be provided by the group that created and/or maintains the vocabulary, some may come from third parties. We provide an initial field guide to the area.

Monday 12:15 pm - 2:30 pm


Monday 2:30 pm- 2:00 pm

The Universal Business Language ecosystem and the OASIS TC process

Ken Holman

UBL, the Universal Business Language, is a complete system for structuring a family of 81 business documents around a common library of business objects. With both normative XML schemas and non-normative JSON schemas, UBL provides a complete ecosystem for electronic commerce. UBL was developed by an OASIS technical committee. Using the OASIS TC Process allowed UBL to be submitted directly to ISO. UBL is not simply a collection of schemas, however: it is an expression of a whole system of collaborative development and support for the life cycle of specifications and tools for business processes and documents, conducted under the process governance by a group of volunteers from around the world.

Monday 2:00 - 2:30


to be announced

DocBook is a general purpose XML schema particularly well suited to books and papers about computer hardware and software (though it is by no means limited to these applications). DocBook has been under active maintenance for more than 20 years, it began life as an SGML document type definition. Because it is a large and robust schema, and because its main structures correspond to the general notion of what constitutes a “book,” DocBook has been adopted by a large and growing community of authors writing books of all kinds. DocBook is supported “out of the box” by a number of commercial tools, and there is rapidly expanding support for it in a number of free software environments. These features have combined to make DocBook a generally easy to understand, widely useful, and very popular schema. Dozens of organizations are using DocBook for millions of pages of documentation, in various print and online formats, worldwide.

Monday 2:30 pm - 3:00 pm


Kristen James Eberlein

DITA, the OASIS Darwin Information Typing Architecture, is an XML-based specification for modular and extensible topic-based information. DITA is specializable, which allows for the introduction of specific semantics for specific purposes without increasing the size of other DTDs, and which allows the inheritance of shared design and behavior and interchangeability with unspecialized content.

Monday 3:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Coffee Break

Monday 3:30 pm - 4:00 pm

To be announced

Monday 4:00 pm - 4:30 pm


Debbie Lapeyre, Mulberry Technologies

The Journal Article Tag Suite is an application of NISO Z39.96-2015, which defines a set of XML elements and attributes for tagging journal articles. BITS, the Book Interchange Tag Suite, and NISO STS, the NISO Standards Tag Suite are applications of NISO Z39.96-2015 for books and standards. All of the models share a common foundation, customized to meet the needs of specific document types.

Monday 4:30 - 5:30

Open Discussion

symposium participants

After hearing about a wide variety of markup vacabularies what have we learned? What do they seem to have in common? What could one community learn from another? How could we all improve use of shared markup vocabularies? This is the time for observations, suggestions, and complaints. What do you think?