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BizTalk 2010 Recipes : Document Schemas - Defining Regular Expressions

3/26/2011 3:33:47 PM

1. Problem

You have field elements or attributes in your schema for which you want to restrict the valid content beyond data type, enumerations, length, and minimum and maximum values.

2. Solution

You can use the Pattern property of a field element or attribute to place a collection of regular expressions. Regular expressions are used to do pattern matching against the inbound data for the node. If the inbound data adheres to the pattern(s) defined for a node, then the input instance document will pass XML validation. If the inbound data for the node does not match the pattern(s), then the input instance document will fail XML validation. From within the BizTalk Editor, follow these steps to add a regular expression to a field element or an attribute:

  1. Select the field element or attribute node to which you wish to add restriction patterns.

  2. Right-click and select Properties.

  3. Set the Derived By property to Restriction. This will enable the Restriction properties within the Properties window.

  4. Select the ellipsis next to the Pattern property to launch the Pattern Editor dialog box, as shown in Figure 1.

    Figure 1. Pattern Editor dialog box
  5. Add one to many valid regular expressions, and then click OK. The BizTalk Editor will add these restriction patterns to the schema definition.

NOTE

Although XSD regular expressions are similar to those in other programming languages that allow for pattern matching, there are some differences. Refer to the W3C specification for the specifics of the regular expression syntax for XSD.

3. How It Works

More restrictive validation of the input data may be of value for numerous types of data, such as phone numbers, IP addresses, and Social Security numbers. In these cases, you can use regular expressions to restrict the type of data that will be considered valid.

Once you have created a schema that has nodes with pattern value restrictions, you can use the Generate Instance and Validate Instance capabilities of the BizTalk Editor to test your patterns.

NOTE

If you have pattern restrictions for a node(s) in your schema, the Generate Instance option will not create an instance document with valid data for those nodes. You will need to edit the instance document created. However, the Validate Instance option will validate the schema, including restriction patterns.

At runtime, neither the PassThruReceive nor the XMLReceive pipeline will complete a strict validation of the inbound document against the schema including the pattern matching. To complete a thorough validation of an inbound document, you must create a validation pipeline and add the document schema to the Document Schema property of the XML validator. If the document fails schema validation in the pipeline, the instance will terminate.

In practice, it may be more beneficial to handle the strict validation of data more gracefully than terminating the instance when the validation fails. This is especially true if the document is coming from an outside source or from a system that is outside your control. However, restriction patterns can be used to safeguard downstream systems and processes from bad data.

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