SRU (Search/Retrieval Using URL)

CQL: Contextual Query Language

CQL Context Sets  

CQL is so-named ("Contextual Query Language") because it is founded on the concept of searching by semantics or context, rather than by syntax. The same search may be performed in a different way on very different underlying data structures in different servers, but the important thing is that both servers understand the intent behind the query. In order for multiple communities to define their own semantics, CQL uses Context Sets in order to ensure cross-domain interoperability.

Context sets permit CQL users to create their own indexes, relations, relation modifiers and boolean modiers without fear of chosing the same name as someone else and thereby having an ambiguous query. All of these four aspects of CQL must come from a context set, however there are rules for determining the prevailing default if one is not supplied. Context sets allow CQL to be used by communities in ways which the designers could not have foreseen, while still maintaining the same rules for parsing which allow interoperability.

When defining a new context set, it is necessary to provide a description of the semantics of each item within it. While context sets may contain indexes, relations, relation modifiers and boolean modifiers, there is no requirement that all should be present; in fact it is expected that most context sets will only define indexes.

Each context set has a unique identifier, a URI. When sending the context set in a query, a short form is used. These short names may be sent as a mapping within the query itself, or be published by the recipient of the query in some protocol dependent fashion. The prefix 'cql' is reserved for the base CQL context set, but authors may wish to recommend a short name for use with their set.

An index, relation, or modifier qualified by a context is represented in the form prefix.value, where prefix is a short name for a unique context set identifier.