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Last modified: June 25, 2003
Materials [Property Data] Markup Language (MatML)

"MatML (Materials Markup Language) is an XML language developed especially for the interchange of materials information. It addresses the problems of interpretation and interoperability for materials property data exchanged via the World Wide Web... The descriptive nature of the MatML tags, such as <Name>, <Class>, and <Subclass> is plainly evident, permitting the language to be far more intelligible than non-descriptive fixed tagsets such as HTML. At the same time, MatML defines a coherent and consistent document structure for its tags, which ensures that any programming language can be used to parse and process the data in whatever manner required... The MatML Version 3.0 Schema contains the formal specification for the materials markup language and represents the efforts to date of a cross section of the international materials community with contributions from private industry, government laboratories, universities, standards organizations, and professional societies..." [adapted from the Overview]

From the 'Conclusion' in the MatML Version 3.0 specification: "At present, the materials data 'marketplace' [materials suppliers, materials databases, materials societies, materials websites, modeling software, finite element codes, etc.] can be very chaotic and difficult for both providers and consumers. Until the arrival of MatML, there was no common exchange format but instead hundreds of proprietary formats that resulted in wasteful duplication of effort and poor scale-up. Also plaguing the materials data community is the absence of software interoperability, whereby one computer program, such as a finite element code, can automatically input material properties from another computer program or database without the necessity of human intervention. The present situation overall yields very inefficient data processing... MatML will serve the materials data marketplace as a common, public domain materials data exchange format -- a non-proprietary and generic language for materials property data. With considerable built-in flexibility and extensibility as attributes of the language, MatML will provide for direct program-to-program interoperability, efficient data processing, and rapid, reliable, and useful response to searches for materials data over the Web. Its widespread adoption will provide for powerful and malleable connection of the various materials data sources found on the Web today, as well as those to be added to the Web tomorrow..."

On March 17, 2003 NIST announced the release of the MatML Version 3.0 XML Schema and associated documentation: "Scientists and engineers trying to share materials property data over the Internet will have an easier time now thanks to a new computer language called MatML -- Materials Markup Language -- developed by an international group of researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), industry, government laboratories, universities, standards organizations and professional societies. MatML provides a standard format for managing and exchanging materials property data on the World Wide Web, eliminating interoperability and interpretation problems. Based on the Extensible Markup Language (known as XML), MatML is a non-proprietary, generic language that makes it possible to parse and process data without the need for human intervention. The MatML format makes it easily readable and understandable by scientists and engineers. At the same time, MatML provides software developers with a protocol that is both structured and ordered, facilitating the transmission, validation, and interpretation of materials property data between different applications and across different platforms. Currently, the MatML Steering Committee is coordinating acceptance testing as well as prototype software development. More information, including the MatML Version 3.0 Schema, which contains the formal specification for the materials markup language, is available [for download] at" See: "MatML Version 3.0: NIST, International Team Develop Materials Data Exchange Language."

[April 24, 2001] The MatML project focused upon the distribution of materials property data is coordinated by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The MatML effort is addressing the problems of interpretation and interoperability through the development of an Extensible Markup Language (XML) for materials data that will permit the storage, transmission, and processing of materials property data distributed via the World Wide Web. A MatML Working Group has been established and represents a cross section of the materials community with members from private industry, government laboratories, universities, standards organizations, and professional societies. The Working Group uses an online forum for discussing issues such as the scope of and specifications for MatML and has recently produced a working draft of the document type definition (DTD) for the markup language. The MatML DTD contains structures for transferring information concerning the material and its properties, terms which may help with the interpretation of the transferred data, and graphs. The DTD is the XML semantic and syntactic formalism that software will need to parse, interpret, and use the data contained in MatML documents. The next task after the DTD is prepared will be to apply MatML to materials property data and to build a catalog containing these examples. The catalog will demonstrate how to prepare MatML documents and will also reveal opportunities for revision of the DTD. Once the MatML DTD moves beyond the draft stage, it will enter the next critical phase of application development and acceptance testing. This phase will be crucial for demonstrating that MatML works, testing its robustness, and serving as a guide for others interested in using MatML."

[July 2000] "MatML: An XML for Standardizing Web-Based Materials Property Data." [End Notes: Things Other.] Invited article by E.F. Begley and C.P. Sturrock. In JOM Volume 54, Number 7 (July 2000), pages 52, 56. JOM is the monthly membership journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS).

[March 29, 2000] Materials Property Data Markup Language (MatML). A communiqué from Ed Begley (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and Dr. Peter Murray-Rust describes an XML-based 'Materials Property Data Markup Language'. "Much of science and technology owe their progress to the careful collection, logging and interpretation of data. And as information technology becomes more efficient, so do the methods scientists use for sorting and accessing data. Now hoping to improve the utility of electronic materials property data, NIST scientists have embarked on a project to standardize the way materials property data is posted on the World Wide Web. This international project coordinated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, is inviting others in the materials property data community to join the effort called Materials Property Data Markup Language, or MatML. The goal of MatML is to create a standard markup language for web-based materials property data collections. While current hypertext markup language specifies elements of web page design, it contains no mechanism for tagging or specifying any of the hundreds of materials properties that materials scientists and engineers need to know. MatML will address interpretation and interoperability of materials property data. The goal is to develop a markup language that will describe the data source, the material and the material properties. Ultimately, this project could allow researchers to easily use electronic materials property data from multiple sources in models, simulations or distributed databases. The markup language will re-use DTDs and schemas from other domains, such as MathML and CML. Dr. Peter Murray-Rust is collaborating in ensuring that CML can interoperate to provide the chemical parts of MatML." For other references, see the text of the note.

Note: "The MatML Kernel (Obsolete) was the predecessor of the MatML DTD and was developed principally to provide a focal point for discussion by the MatML Working Group. Plain English and formatting are used to delineate the structures contained in the kernel. During the early stages of MatML's development, it was important that its structure was accessible to everyone without regard to one's facility with the syntax and semantics of a formal XML DTD. The MatML kernel contains structures for transferring information concerning the data source, the material and its properties, terms which may help with the interpretation of the transferred data, and graphs."

Principal References

General: Articles, Papers, News

  • [March 17, 2003] "MatML Version 3.0. NIST, International Team Develop Materials Data Exchange Language." Announcement March 17, 2003.

  • [August 2001] "MatML - Materials Markup Language Workshop Report." By C. P. Sturrock (NIST Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory), E. F. Begley (NIST Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory), and J. G. Kaufman (Kaufman Associates). Reference: NISTIR 6785. August 2001. 41 pages. ['This MatML Workshop Report summarizes the international workshop held at NIST during June 26-27, 2001 to address the technical and strategic future of MatML, an application of XML for materials property data.' Use cases are identified.] "The MatML - Materials Markup Language Workshop was held at NIST to consider the technical and strategic future of MatML, an extensible markup language for materials data. Following detailed description and illustrations of MatML, the views of various constituencies of MatML were presented and considered. Several key strategic issues were identified, debated, and targeted for additional follow-up work. With the imminent migration of MatML from NIST to the broader user community, the longer-term stewardship of MatML and its potential formal standardization were recognized as the primary strategic issues to be resolved in the coming years... On June 26 and 27, 2001, approximately 40 materials data experts convened at the National Institute of Standards and Technology to consider the future of MatML, an extensible markup language for materials data. The MatML Working Group, led by E.F. Begley of NIST, had developed MatML over the preceding 20 months via an online list server maintained at NIST. The workshop was co-chaired by Begley and C.P. Sturrock, also of NIST. The widespread applicability of MatML attracted the participation of individuals from several types of organizations, including professional societies (e.g., ASM International, American Welding Society), national research institutes (e.g., the European Joint Research Center (Petten, The Netherlands), the National Institute for Materials Science (Japan), the U.K. Atomic Weapons Establishment), federally-funded data centers and agencies (e.g., the Advanced Materials & Processes Technology Information Analysis Center, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), manufacturers (e.g., Rolls- Royce, Boston Scientific), software companies (e.g., MSC Software, Centor Corporation), universities, and materials consultants. The goals of the workshop were threefold: (1) Provide the MatML Working Group with a status report; (2) Introduce newcomers to MatML; (3) Develop consensus on MatML's technical and strategic future..." [cache]

  • [November 2000] "MatML: XML for Materials Property Data." By E. F. Begley and C. P. Sturrock. Published in ASM International's Advanced Materials & Processes (AM&P), November 2000. The manuscript describes the MatML project and contains the full list of citations not included in the AM&P article. [source]

  • [March 2000] "NIST's Materials Property Data Markup Language (MatML)." Announcement March 2000. Personal communiqué. See also "State of the Art: A New Language," in ASTM Standardization News, March 2000; similarly "New NIST Effort Seeks to Improve Utility of Property Data" in Journal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Volume 105, Number 2 (March/April 2000), News Briefs.

Earlier References

[Some of these references are probably obsolete and the links broken. To fix.]

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