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The Ed-Fi Descriptor pattern allows controlled vocabularies to be customized for the needs of a particular context. Many commonly used option lists such as Academic Subject, Grading Period, Language, Term, and so forth are defined by Descriptors.

All Descriptor references require namespaces to ensure that the semantics of data messages are clear, even in transit. This also communicates information about who governs the values being sent for the controlled vocabularies that make up a particular Descriptor.

The Descriptor references must be formatted as follows:

uri://[namespace]/[name of descriptor]#[descriptor value]
  • Valid namespaces can only contain alphanumeric characters and $-_.+!*'(),
  • Valid Descriptor names can only contain alphanumeric characters
  • Valid code values can contain any character except '#'

The API provides validation errors for Descriptor references that are not in the correct format.

Namespaces are assigned by platform hosts. Generally speaking, namespaces identify the originating entity. The following are examples from the Ed-Fi Alliance namespace, which includes the default values in the as-shipped ODS / API:

uri://ed-fi.org/AcademicSubjectDescriptor#Chemistry
uri://ed-fi.org/AcademicSubjectDescriptor#English Language Arts  



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