Schematron files


Schematron is a rule-based validation language for making assertions about the structure and content of XML documents. It is expressed in XML using a small number of elements and XPath. It has been standardised as part of ISO/IEC 19757.

All validation rules to be applied on eForms XML notices are expressed in Schematron. The Central Validation Service (CVS) executes the Schematron files in order to produce a validation report in the Schematron Validation Report Language (SVRL). SVRL as also described as part of the ISO/IEC 19757 standard.

Structure of schematron folder and files

Schematron rules are organised in 2 folders under schematrons:

  • static: all rules that only use information in the notice being validated.

  • dynamic: all rules in static, plus rules that depend on information outside of the notice being validated, for example the current date, or the content of another notice.

In each folder, the entry point is a file named complete-validation.sch. This file references all the other files with include statements. The included files each define one pattern, which is a set of rules.

The individual Schematron files are executed in a logical sequence:

  1. Check the required container elements are present, and forbidden container elements are not present.

  2. Check the required leaf elements are present, and forbidden leaf elements are not present

  3. Check the values in leaf elements: matching a pattern, or code from a codelist.

  4. Check the presence and absence of leaf elements or their related values depending on specific conditions.

  5. Check the values of leaf elements are consistent with each other.

  6. For dynamic, check rules that depend on information outside of the notice being validated.


Starting from SDK version 1.10.0, the Schematron files make use of phases, a feature of the Schematron standard. A phase defines a named group of active patterns, and you can set the phase to use when executing the Schematron validation, thus defining the subset of rules to be executed.

The various patterns in the schematron files contain either rules that apply only to a specific notice subtype, or rules that apply to any notice.

We have defined one phase for each notice subtype, with an identifier equal to "eforms-" followed by the notice subtype. This "eforms-" prefix is needed because in the Schematron standard, identifiers should not start with a digit.

Each phase contains all the rules that must be applied to notices of the corresponding subtype: all patterns for this subtype, and all patterns not specific to a subtype.

The definition of the phases is in the complete-validation.sch file:

<phase id="eforms-16"> (1)
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-1a" /> (2)
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-1b-16" /> (3)
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-2a-16" />
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-2b" />
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-3a" />
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-3b" />
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-3b-16" />
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-4-16" />
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-5" />
<phase id="eforms-17">
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-1a" />
    <active pattern="EFORMS-validation-stage-1b-17" />
1 Definition of a phase with its identifier.
2 Pattern containing rules not specific to a subtype.
3 Pattern containing rules that apply only to notices with subtype 16.

When validating a notice, you can look up its subtype by getting the value of the field "Notice Subtype" (OPP-070-notice), preprend it with "eforms-" and use this value as the phase to use when executing the Schematron. This will avoid trying to execute all the rules that apply only to other notice subtypes.

As the large majority of rules are specific to a notice subtype, this significantly reduces the execution time of the Schematron, in particular for large notices.

If you do not use the phases when executing the Schematron, you will get the same behaviour as for SDK versions before 1.10.0:

  • If no phase is set when executing the Schematron, all patterns are considered active, so all rules will be executed.

  • The rules that apply only to a specific notice subtype all have the corresponding restriction (with a predicate in the rule context).

Configuration for dynamic rules

Dynamic rules use information that is in another notice. The content of this other XML notice is retrieved based on its identifier, by making an HTTP request to a specific URL.

The URL is configured in the file config.sch, via the variable urlPrefix. The notice identifier is appended to the value of the variable to build the complete URL used to fetch the notice content.

Schematron rules and assertions

Schematron files contain a set of assertions grouped according to the context that they are tested within.

<rule context="/*/cac:ProcurementProjectLot[cbc:ID/@schemeName='Lot']/cac:ProcurementProject[$noticeSubType = '16']"> (1)
    <assert id="BR-BT-00024-0178" role="ERROR" diagnostics="BT-24-Lot" test="count(cbc:Description) &gt; 0"> (2)
        rule|text|BR-BT-00024-0178 (3)
1 The rule element defines a set of assertions that will be executed at each location corresponding to the XPath expression in the context attribute.
2 The assert element define a single assertion with related information
3 The message used when the assertion is not true. This is the identifier of a translation text.

The information in the assert element is used to provide details in the validation report.

Validation report

The validation report indicates the rules that were executed, and gives detailed information for each failed assertion.

<svrl:fired-rule context="/*/cac:TenderingProcess[$noticeSubType = '16']"/> (1)
<svrl:failed-assert id="BR-BT-00024-0178"
        test="count(cbc:Description) > 0"
        role="ERROR"> (2)
    <svrl:text>rule|text|BR-BT-00024-0178</svrl:text> (3)
    <svrl:diagnostic-reference diagnostic="BT-24-Lot" see="field:BT-24-Lot"> (4)
1 Indicates that the context for a specific rule was found in the notice
2 An assert failed because the test evaluated to false
3 The message for the failed assertion.
4 Additional information on the failure.
As shown in the example above, after executing the Schematron files, the messages for failed assertions in the validation report are identifiers of translation text. These identifiers and their translations are held in "rule_*" files in the translations folder of the SDK. CVS performs an additional step after validation, replacing the identifiers in the messages with the text of the messages in the language specified in the request to CVS.

The attributes of the failed-assert element provide specific information:


The identifier of the failed assertion


The exact location that was matched by the rule context, as an absolute XPath.


The XPath expression of the check that failed.


The severity of the failure, either ERROR or WARN.


A specific characteristic of the failed assertion. The value LAWFULNESS indicates that the failure indicates the notice might not be suitable to be published.

When relevant, additional information is provided via the diagnostic-reference element:


This attribute contains the identifier of the diagnostic information. This should not be used to extract information from the report.


This attribute contains the identifier of the node or field that is targeted by the failed assertion. The value starts either with node: or field: to distinguish the 2 types of identifiers.


This element contains the XPath of the XML element that is targeted by the failed assertion, when this is not already fully indicated in the location attribute of the failed-assert element. The XPath is relative to what is indicated in the location attribute.
For example, if an assert that checks the presence of a mandatory element fails, the location points to the parent node of the missing element, and the text corresponds to the specific missing element.