I am interested in creating a specification for the representation of complex hierarchical (domain-specific) data in a way that is independent of implementation. Think of a blueprint from which you can implement classes (in your language of choice), an xml schema, database tables, a yaml structure, or whatever. The specification should provide some manner of strong-typing (int vs. decimal vs. string, etc).

The idea would be for the specification to be lodged as an open standard with an open standards organization, but that it could be implemented in a variety of ways/languages.

Is there a standard language for this? XSD would technically work but would imply an XML implementation (and seems a bit heavy-handed). UML might work. But are there other/better languages for describing domain-specific data structures in a generic way?

  • 1
    json-schema.org Jul 13, 2016 at 20:03
  • @RobertHarvey that's a poor answer.
    – user7433
    Jul 13, 2016 at 20:16
  • I do appreciate the link. Jul 13, 2016 at 20:17
  • 2
    @omouse: It's not an answer at all. Jul 13, 2016 at 20:18
  • there must be a dozen languages for describing data structures, how does the domain specific bit fit in?
    – Ewan
    Jul 13, 2016 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


You can look to the W3C specifications as an example. They describe a small syntax of their own which means you can implement the HTML5 spec in any language: https://www.w3.org/TR/html5/

Another good example to look at are descriptions of algorithms and data structures which have a small syntax of only necessary components and leave the implementation details up to the developer. A graph search in Python will look different from Erlang but the underlying principle will be the same.

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