XML Tutorial

For this tutorial we will once again return to the same domain. Previously we have used a relational model, for which we have identified the following relations:

Teachers(*name*, room)
    room → Rooms.name
TeacherTitles(*teacher*, *title*)
    teacher → Teachers.name
Rooms(*name*, nrSeats)
Courses(*name*, teacher, nrStudents)
    teacher → Teachers.name
Classes(*course*, *day*, *hour*)
    course → courses.name

Now we will switch to a semi-structured data model.


Your first task is to come up with a schema for a semi-structured model of the same domain, in other words to create a DTD for the domain. Note that there are several ways of creating a DTD that would make perfect sense for this domain.

  • Create a schema that directly mirrors the relational model. Remember that a “relational” DTD consists of exactly three levels below the root, with values only at the outermost level (in the leaves).
  • Create a schema that makes use of the flexibility of the semi-structured model. In particular your schema should allow values on other levels than the outermost, and have a varying number of levels in various parts of the schema.


Once you have your second schema, construct a small sample XML document that conforms to it.

Note that XML is a fairly verbose language, and this task could take quite some time if you don’t restrict yourself. The point is to practise the relationship between XML and DTDs, not to practise your skill at writing < and > symbols…


Use the second schema you constructed. For each of the following, write an XPath expression that:

  • finds all courses that have at least 20 students.
  • lists all professors at the school.
  • finds all courses that have classes on Mondays.
  • finds all rooms that are used on Mondays.

Use XPath Checker or any other tool for checking your XPath expressions.



First, a schema that directly mirrors the relational model:

<!DOCTYPE Hogwarts [

 <!ELEMENT Hogwarts (Teachers, TeacherTitles, Rooms, Courses, Classes)>

 <!ELEMENT Teachers (Teacher*)>
  <!ELEMENT Teacher EMPTY>
   <!ATTLIST Teacher
     name ID    #REQUIRED
     room IDREF #REQUIRED>

 <!ELEMENT TeacherTitles (TeacherTitle*) >
  <!ELEMENT TeacherTitle EMPTY >
   <!ATTLIST TeacherTitle
     teacher IDREF #REQUIRED
     title   CDATA #REQUIRED>

 <!ELEMENT Rooms (Room*)>
   <!ATTLIST Room
     name    ID    #REQUIRED
     nrSeats CDATA #IMPLIED>

 <!ELEMENT Courses (Course*)>
   <!ATTLIST Course
     name       ID    #REQUIRED
     teacher    IDREF #REQUIRED
     nrStudents CDATA #IMPLIED>

 <!ELEMENT Classes (Class*)>
   <!ATTLIST Class
     course IDREF #REQUIRED
     day    CDATA #REQUIRED
     hour   CDATA #REQUIRED>


Three levels everywhere, for tables, rows, and attributes respectively. Note that we cannot declare composite keys, so Classes and TeacherTitles don’t have any ID attributes.

Then a more natural approach:

<!DOCTYPE Hogwarts [

<!ELEMENT Hogwarts (Rooms, Teachers, Courses) >

<!ELEMENT Rooms (Room*) >
  <!ATTLIST Room
    name    ID    #REQUIRED
    nrSeats CDATA #IMPLIED >

<!ELEMENT Teachers (Teacher*) >
 <!ELEMENT Teacher (Title*) >
  <!ELEMENT Title (#PCDATA) >
  <!ATTLIST Teacher
    name ID    #REQUIRED
    room IDREF #REQUIRED >

<!ELEMENT Courses (Course*) >
 <!ELEMENT Course (Class*) >

  <!ATTLIST Course
    name       ID    #REQUIRED
    teacher    IDREF #REQUIRED
    nrStudents CDATA #IMPLIED >
   <!ATTLIST Class
     day    CDATA #REQUIRED
     hour   CDATA #REQUIRED >


There are room for differences of course. We might choose to make Classes children of Rooms instead, and include an IDREF course, to get a model similar in spirit to the one we got when doing the 3NF decomposition in (the solutions of) exercise 3. Similarly we could add an IDREF room to the Class element in the model above, to get a model similar inspirit to the one that we got from the E-R diagram in exercise 2. There are other (endless) variations as well, but these are (in my opinion at least) the most natural.

Files containing both the DTDs and XML data are available on-line:

These XML files have been validated using the W3C validation service.


An XML document conforming to the DTD above:

<?xml version="1.0" standalone="yes" ?>

<!-- put the DTD here -->

  <Room name="The_Dungeon" nrSeats="34" />
  <Room name="The_Cabin" nrSeats="163" />
  <Teacher name="Snape" room="The_Dungeon" >
  <Teacher name="Hagrid" room="The_Cabin" />
  <Course name="Potioncraft" teacher="Snape" nrStudents="28">
   <Class day="Monday" hour="10" />
  <Course name="Handling_of_Wild_Creatures" teacher="Hagrid">
   <Class day="Saturday" hour="13" />
   <Class day="Thursday" hour="7" />


(These solutions have been tested using an on-line XPath tester and also the XPath progam on the Linux system at Chalmers.)

  • Find all courses that have at least 20 students:
  • List all professors at the school:
//Teacher[Title = "Professor"]
  • Find all courses that have classes on Mondays:
//Course[Class/@day = "Monday"]
  • Find all rooms that are used on Mondays:
//Room[@name = ancestor::Hogwarts//Teacher[@name = ancestor::Hogwarts//Course[Class/@day = "Monday"]/@teacher]/@room]