developer.URI completion


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Purpose: revisit URI completion engine and its use cases. A number of DataSource completion engines give colloquial responses like "<INT>". It would be nice to tighten this up to support automatic GUI creation.


  1. Completion Engine
  2. Use Cases
  3. Completion Engine to XML Schema
  4. API That is Useful for Automatic GUI Creation
    1. experiment
    2. type specifiers

1. Completion Engine

DataSource.getCompletions( CompletionContext cc ) The datasource responds with a list of CompletionContexts. This essentially defines a tree where:

  for each folder, a list of files. 
  for each file, a list of parameters
  for each parameter, a list of values (or constraint on valid values)

2. Use Cases

  • completion engine provides efficient tool for creating URIs. (GUI free when you just need a little assistence)
  • URIs automatically discovered for data mining
  • Automatic GUI creation.
  • URI validation.

3. Completion Engine to XML Schema

We can define a mapping from URIs to an xml document that can be verified with an xml schema.


Then completion can be defined as an XML Schema.

But until then we'll use the CompletionContext object and List<CompletionContext> getCompletions( CompletionContext ).

4. API That is Useful for Automatic GUI Creation

What has to change before GUIs can be automatically created? With the current API, we could create a GUI that is a list of parameter names with a TextField for entering each value. Documentation strings could provide a label for each name label and value textfield pair.

This would be unhelpful though, because users wouldn't know what is expected in each field. We couldn't constrain fields to valid values (e.g. <int>). It would be nice to have droplists for enumerations. Further, sometimes a parameters are exclusive (delim and fixedColumns, rank2 and column).

In PaPCo, we introduced a "papco_props" idiom that tried to do this, defining parameter groups and rules about what must be specified when. Also, surely xml schemas provide the sophisticated rules needed to provide a useful GUI.

But if we were to create a quick and dirty extension to what we already have, what could be done?

  • primitive type ids like "<INT>" and "<INT:min=0&max=10>" "<ENUM:sc1,sc2,sc3,sc4>" "<SUBSET:filter1,filter2,filter3>"
  • float primitive types might also hint at resolution to support data mining.
  • required keyword, perhaps with group: "required:parserType".
    • getCompletions( CompletionContext ) API supports conditional requirements
    • Note the data source "reject" method would no longer be necessary, since the completion engine can be used to see if any required parameters are missing.
  • some way to disable parameters so the parameter existence is evident, but the control is not enabled.
  • some way to hint at control type (slider vs integer text field), droplist vs radiobutton

4.1. experiment

file entered: file:/home/data/file.asc

need type: vap+dat:/home/data/file.asc

multiple columns: column or rank2 required

4.2. type specifiers


 $(integer,offset=4,cadence=5)  ...,-6,-1,4,9,14,...

TODO: name the fields so they unify with time format specification.


TODO: include way to specify resource URIs like:

 vap+dat:$(file)   # $(file) indicates it should be the name of one downloadable filename 
 vap+dat:$(file;multiple)  # allow aggregation spec
 vap+odbc:$(odbc)$(paramList)   # extend to new resource URI types like odbc, which may have finders of their own.
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