The critical difference between DTDs and XML Schema is that XML Schema utilize an XML-based syntax, whereas DTDs have a unique syntax held over from SGML DTDs. Although DTDs are often criticized because of this need to learn a new syntax, the syntax itself is quite terse. The opposite is true for XML Schema, which are verbose, but also make use of tags and XML so that authors of XML should find the syntax of XML Schema less intimidating.
The goal of DTDs was to retain a level of compatibility with SGML for applications that might want to convert SGML DTDs into XML DTDs. However, in keeping with one of the goals of XML, "terseness in XML markup is of minimal importance," there is no real concern with keeping the syntax brief.
So what are some of the other differences which might be especially important when we are converting a DTD? Let's take a look.
The most significant difference between DTDs and XML Schema is the capability to create and use datatypes in Schema in conjunction with element and attribute declarations. In fact, it's such an important difference that one half of the XML Schema Recommendation is devoted to datatyping and XML Schema. We cover datatypes in detail in Part III of this book, "XML Schema Datatypes."
Another area where DTDs and Schema differ significantly is with occurrence constraints. If you recall from our previous examples in Chapter 2, "Schema Structure" (or your own work with DTDs), there are three symbols that you can use to limit the number of occurrences of an element: *, + and ?.
So, let's say we had a element, and we wanted to be able to define a size attribute for the shirt, which allowed users to choose a size: small, medium, or large. Our DTD would look like this:
<!ELEMENT item (shirt)> <!ELEMENT shirt (#PCDATA)> <!ATTLIST shirt size_value (small | medium | large)>
But what if we wanted
sizeto be an element? We can't do that with a DTD. DTDs do not provide for enumerations in an element's text content. However, because of datatypes with Schema, when we declared the enumeration in the preceding example, we actually created a
size_valueswhich we can now use with an element:
<xs:element name="size" type="size_value">