Overriding Element Type to Empty Content - nillable

This section describes a tutorial example on what is a nillable element and how to declare an element to be nillable.

Sometimes when constructing an element in an XML document, you may want to override the element type defined in the schema to say no element content is provided. This can be done by using the special attribute "nil="true"" to override the content type defined in the schema.

For example, elements representing sales order may defined to have a "shipDate" child element, which must have "date" as its content. However, orders that are not shipped yet will have no content in "shipDate". The "shipDate" element in those orders can use the special attribute "nil="true"".

Rules on overriding the element type to say no element content is provided using the special attribute "nil="true"":

1. The element must be declared with "nillable="true"" in the schema. Note that "nillable="true"" must be added to the element declaration component, not to the type definition component.

2. Declare a new namespace prefix in the XML document called, "xsi", with a special attribute on the root element: "xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"". This is needed to provide the namespace prefix "xsi" for the next change.

3. In XML document, add the special attribute "xsi:nil="true"" to the element.

4. No content (no child element, or text content) should be include in that element.

5. Attributes of that element is not affected by "xsi:nil="true"".

Below is a tutorial sample schema named order.xsd that has the "shipDate" element declared as "nillable":

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<xsd:schema xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema">
<!-- order.xsd
 - Copyright (c) 2013, HerongYang.com, All Rights Reserved.

 <xsd:element name="order">
    <xsd:element name="product" type="xsd:string"/>
    <xsd:element name="price" type="xsd:string"/>
    <xsd:element name="shipDate" type="shipDateType"

 <xsd:complexType name="shipDateType">
   <xsd:extension base="xsd:date">
    <xsd:attribute name="carrier" type="xsd:string"/>


Sample XML documents that conforms to this schema are provided in sections below.

Last update: 2013.

Table of Contents

 About This Book

 Introduction to XML Schema

 XML Editor and Schema Processor - XMLPad

 Java API for XML Processing - JAXP

 JAXP - XML Schema (XSD) Validation

 Xerces2 Java Parser - Java API of XML Parsers

 Using Xerces2 Java API

 XML Schema Language - Basics

 Introduction of XSD Built-in Datatypes

 "string" and Its Derived Datatypes

 "decimal" and Its Derived Datatypes

 "dateTime" and Its Related Datatypes

 Miscellaneous Built-in Datatypes

 Facets, Constraining Facets and Restriction Datatypes

 "simpleType" - Defining Your Own Simple Datatypes

 Complex Element Declaration

 Identity-Constraints: unique, key and keyref

 Assertion as Custom Validation Rules

 XML Schema Location and Namespace in XML Documents

Overriding Element Types in XML Documents

Overriding Element Type to Empty Content - nillable

 Overriding Element Type to Empty Content - xsi:nil

 Defining a Derived Datatype from a Base Datatype

 Overriding the Base Datatype - xsi:type

 Overriding the Base Datatype - Errors

 Linking Multiple Schema Documents Together



 PDF Printing Version