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matml.

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MatML
A Data
Interchange Markup
Language
This article updates and expands upon Tagset for MatML Version 3.0
previously published information on Associate Geometry PropertyDetails
MatML, a new extensible markup AssociationDetails Glossary Qualifier
language designed specifically for the BulkDetails Graphs Relationship
Characterization Material Result
exchange of materials information. ChemicalComposition MatML_Doc Shape
In particular, it describes the strengths Class MeasurementTechniqueDetails Source
ComponentDetails Metadata Specification
of MatML from the perspective of Compound Name SpecimenDetails
materials specialists dealing with a Concentration Notes Subclass
wide variety of types of materials Data Orientation Symbol
DataSourceDetails ParameterDetails Uncertainty
information. DimensionalDetails ParameterValue Unit
Dimensions PhaseComposition Unitless
Element ProcessingDetails Units
J.G. Kaufman* Formula PropertyData Value
Kaufman Associates Ltd.
Columbus, Ohio Material benefits of MatML
E.F. Begley From the perspective of a materials specialist in-
National Institute of Standards and Technology volved in any aspect of the broad range of ma-
Gaithersburg, Maryland terials research, development, production, or struc-
tural design, three features make MatML extremely
attractive.

MatML
is a markup lan- Simplicity: The inherent simplicity of MatML
guage for which is based on its finite set of tags combined with the
the tags are de- understandability of those tags, whose names are
scriptive of materials information, e.g. <Property- common materials terminology. It also has the flex-
Data>, <Name>, and <Units>. The MatML tagset ibility to add other very detailed information
also includes information about the pedigree of the through the notes and namespaces (more on these
data, as conveyed by <Metadata> and <Data- later).
SourceDetails>. In addition, MatML, like all ex- Understandability: This is clearly the most im-
tensible markup languages, provides for any portant characteristic of MatML, and is provided
number of user-defined tags. by the fact that the tag names are conventional, stan-
The descriptive nature and extensibility of the dard materials terms, not cryptic, indistinct, or in-
language renders it far more intelligible and mal- discriminate symbols as in SGML or HTML. The
leable than non-descriptive fixed tagsets such as obvious advantages to this understandability are:
SGML and HTML . The table contains the complete New markup is very easy to construct.
tagset for MatML Version 3.0 Schema. Incoming markup is very easy to recognize
It should be emphasized strongly that MatML is and interpret.
not a suggested or required schema for any specific Markup is readily checked for quality and
database or application. In fact, MatMLs value stems completeness.
in part from the ability to apply it readily to almost Therefore, it is very easy for the materials spe-
any desired schema developed for any specific ap- cialist to prepare data for exchange with other or-
plication. While a valid MatML document must con- ganizations and to recognize and interpret incoming
tain a small basic subset of tags that are composed markup received from other organizations. It is
to follow an orderly structure defined by the lan- also relatively easy to check the completeness and
guage, MatML is by no means rigid with regard to its quality of outgoing or incoming markup, a critical
application. Rather, MatML has been designed to feature in cases for which the limits of the useful-
deal with the needs of any research, development, ness of materials data may be defined by the pe-
or design concept. Therefore, specific MatML doc- ripheral metadata, such as production processing,
uments are likely to reflect a high degree of content test methods, and exposure parameters.
variability depending upon the application. Flexibility: MatMLs ability to handle very com-
This article describes MatMLs benefits, both plex numeric data, with regard to both the material
from the programming standpoint and from the description and property parameters, is essential to
materials specialists vantage point. It also notes the materials specialist. An example is its successful
several examples of trial applications. application to multi-component composites. Also,
*Fellow of ASM International as noted above, MatML has the versatility to handle
ADVANCED MATERIALS & PROCESSES/NOVEMBER 2003 35
matml.qxd 10/15/03 10:06 AM Page 2

the breadth of metadata required to assure the use- MatML for the exchange of some types of materials
fulness of multi-parameter materials data. information within that organization.
Adding to the flexibility of MatML is the capa- MIL-HDBK-5, 17: The producers of the mili-
bility to include non-textual and non-numeric ele- tary handbooks that cover materials information,
ments such as graphical presentations and micro- commonly referred to as MIL-HDBK-5 and MIL-
graphic representations. A significant portion of HDBK-17, have established a working group to
this advantage is gained by its extensibility. This consider the possible use of MatML in their ex-
term is defined as its ability to utilize via name- change of materials information.
spaces other extensible markup languages such as Automated Equipment Information Exchange
SVG, which handles graphics; and MathML, which (AEX/FIATECH): AEX/FIATECH is developing a
handles equations. Its extensibility enables it to materials markup for automated equipment infor-
work interactively with other extensible markup mation exchange. Like MatML, English language
languages, such as femML, a markup language for tags are utilized, but unlike MatML, each property
finite element modeling. requires different tags. When the AEX program is
Finally, through the namespace concept, MatML at a comparable stage of development with MatML,
itself can be used as a namespace for other markup consideration may be given to harmonization.
languages. For example, it may be used to cover
materials in femML, the XML for finite element Markup software
modeling. While much advantage is gained by the sim-
Business tool: MatML is a tool for small busi- plicity, understandability, and flexibility of MatML,
nesses as well as for large fully integrated organi- a major step toward its broader implementation
MatML was zations. Businesses involved with data generation, will come with the availability of software to facil-
developed under data aggregation, database building, and database itate the markup process. Even for someone quite
the leadership of distribution are typically relatively small, and lack familiar with the data, the markup process can be
E.F. Begley at dedicated programming support. Therefore, the tedious and repetitious, and will be greatly facili-
NIST with the tated by editing software that improves the effi-
value to having the data exchange protocol readily
support and ciency and cost-effectiveness of the markup effort.
involvement of a understood by the materials specialists themselves
is quite important. The simplicity and under- Even with such software tools, it is likely that
broad range of some human intervention will be required to
industry and standability of MatML makes it possible for such
academic organizations to prepare their own information for markup a complex set of data, e.g., some interpre-
partners. distribution, potentially to a wide range of other tation of unusual elements of data such as prior ex-
The current groups. It also helps them deal with new informa- posure conditions or unusual processing of the ma-
status and tion without the need for programming support. terial. In addition, interpretation may be needed
implementation to handle variations in terminology, a familiar
may be found at Other applications problem that may be enhanced by incorporating
http://www. thesaurus software into the formatting software.
Applications in the early stages of consideration:
matml.org. The ultimate goal is to have many, possibly all,
General Electric Corporation: General Electric
(Schenectady) is considering the application of providers and consumers of materials information
using MatML to exchange materials data. That
TRIAL APPLICATIONS would enable any company to accept data from
To support an awareness and understanding of MatML and its appli- any source and facilitate its flow into any internal
cations, the www.matml.org website, hosted by Automation Creations system without the need to write new programs.
Inc., has been launched containing the entire Version 3.0 schema, and It would transform the current situation, in which it
markup examples illustrating its application. is almost always necessary to write new software
With the help of the original MatML Steering Committee, now replaced programs for each source.
by the MatML Coordination Committee, the seeds of several trial appli-
cations have been planted in several important data-intensive industries: Additional collaborations
ACI Application to MatWeb Materials Information Downloads: Au- Although many trial applications of MatML are
tomation Creations Inc. (ACI) has a trial export format for MatWeb in already underway and others are being considered,
place, and is fully committed to MatML as an option for distributing ma- the addition of new opportunities would be wel-
terials information from the site. comed, especially in markets or applications not yet
Granta Design Application of MatML: Granta Design is working on a
engaged. Ideal trials to consider are exchanges of
trial application with which users might eventually download materials
information in MatML format using Granta Design software. representative sets of materials information between
Granta Design Application of MatML for NIST MSEL: On contract from parties for whom this is a routine activity . Even
the NIST Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory, Granta Design more beneficial for trials would be situations in which
is working on the use of MatML for the distribution of materials infor- regular data exchange would be routine if more cost-
mation by MSELs Metallurgy Division. effective means could be established. It is in such
Laboratory Test Equipment Application of MatML: A Test Data Exchange cases that MatML might have its biggest impact.
Working Group has been established to evaluate the reporting of materials
information from laboratory test equipment to lab customers using For more information: J.G. Kaufman is president of
MatML. Westmoreland Mechanical Testing & Research (WMTR) will Kaufman Associates, Columbus, OH 43220; tel: 614/459-
utilize sample customer orders requesting data in MatML as the output. 3949; fax: 614/459-3949; e-mail: gil.kaufman@worldnet.
ASM/MSC Application of MatML for Publication Development: ASM att.net. Ed Begley is a Computer Scientist at the Na-
International and MSC Software are evaluating MatML to handle the tional Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST),
transmission of materials information from ASM to MSC for the devel- Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8630; tel: 301/975-6118; e-mail:
opment of new ASM publications. Edwin.Begley@nist.gov; Web site: www.nist.gov.

36 ADVANCED MATERIALS & PROCESSES/NOVEMBER 2003

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