NIEM Code Lists Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

These are some questions that have been frequently asked about code lists, Genericode, and the NIEM Code Lists Specification. If you have questions you’d like added here, please let us know.

  1. What if simple type enumerations don’t match code list values?

    Any code lists constraint (e.g., an element value must match a code list) is layered on top of any other constraints, from XML Schema, Schematron, or even other code lists. So, if a simple type enumeration allowed codes red, green, and blue, while the Genericode code list allowed only blue and purple, then the only valid value for the element would be blue.

  2. Do you have to create a new code list type for each different code list you use?

    No. You have lots of options. If you’re binding the code lists in schema (rather than run-time binding), you can encode each different code list in a separate element.

    If you’re doing run-time binding, you can use cli:CodeType, or you can hang the cli:codeListURI attribute on each type for which you want run-time code list binding.

  3. Can an authoritative source update a code list without updating NIEM?

    Absolutely. That’s one of the main driving factors in the way the code lists specification is built and used. We expect authoritative sources to update code lists as they need to. It will be up to the code list publishers and users to make sure they are using the same versions of the code lists.

  4. Can an authoritative source update a code list without updating an IEPD?

    Yes, but you need to make sure that all the partner implementations of the IEPD are using the same strategy for updating their code lists. You probably don’t want some systems using v1 of a code list and others using v13 of the code list.

  5. What if my Genericode file has no unique key column?

    It is a requirement of Genericode that every Genericode file have at least one key constraint. The NIEM Code Lists Specification respects that, and it means that people who create Genericode files need to make sure that their code lists files are valid and maintain key constraints.

  6. Does a referenced column have to be a key column?

    No. A reference to non-key columns might mean that you get multiple distinct entries that match your values. That’s OK; that’s how it is designed, but use caution.

  7. Can I only use Genericode code lists with NIEM 3.2?

    No. You can use it with any NIEM 3-based IEPD. This includes NIEM 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2. We’re not even telling you that you can’t use it with other XML Schemas; you’re just likely going to run into difficulties.

  8. Does a Genericode file have multiple code lists in it?

    No. The NIEM Code Lists Specification uses Genericode documents with document element gc:CodeList, which allow only one code list per document. If you need multiple code lists, use multiple code list documents.

  9. Can you convert Excel files to Genericode?

    Maybe. There are existing tools for working with Genericode files, as well as tools under development within the NIEM community. See our Genericode page for more details.

  10. When will I get a Genericode file from the NIEM Schema Subset Generation Tool (SSGT)?

    The SSGT will yield a Genericode file when one is referenced by a component that is selected for a wantlist. If an XML Schema type references a code list, that code list will be included in your subset. This is currently under development; if you have an opinion, please let us know.

  11. In the NIEM Schema Subset Generation Tool (SSGT), which Genericode file will I get when a component identifies a code list identifier for which there are multiple versions?

    This is still to be decided. It might be best for the SSGT to keep one particular version for a release, or it might be best for the SSGT to provide the most recent code list version corresponding to a code list identifier. Please let us know your opinion on this.

  12. Where should I publish my code list documents?

    You should consider your code list documents to be part of a schema set, like XML Schema documents. If you are building an IEPD, then code list documents should be provided alongside the schemas in your IEPD. If you are publishing a domain update, code list documents should be part of your domain update.

    The NTAC will be providing guidelines on how to provide updates to code lists.

  13. How do I validate a Genericode file?

    See our Genericode page for code list tools that can validate Genericode documents.

  14. How do I validate a message against a Genericode file?

    Software to validate messages against code list documents is under development. Updates will be provided on our code lists page.

  15. How do I describe use of code lists in an IEPD?

    The IEPD specification uses XML Catalogs to define XML Schemas for validation. The NIEM Code Lists Specification describes how to use XML Catalogs to resolve code lists. Add your code lists to your IEPD’s XML catalog. Additional guidance will be provided in the future.