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Institution profile record 2014/15

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Validation overview

Version 1.0 Produced 2015-01-20

Overview

HESA has developed extensive quality assurance procedures and runs a range of validation checks against all submissions. This document describes the validation checks and the stages at which they take place.

XML files must be encoded with UTF-8 if they contain characters beyond the standard ASCII character set. Higher education providers (HEPs) are advised to specify the encoding used in their XML files (i.e. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>) and to ensure that their files are actually saved with that encoding. Files with an explicit encoding declaration other than UTF-8 will be rejected. Files with undeclared encoding will be assumed to be UTF-8. If encoding is not specified or does not match the actual file encoding, HEPs are warned that there is a risk that data contained in the files may be changed on submission to HESA.

Validation check Stage
UKPRN validation at INSERT INSERT
Schema checks INSERT (included in Validation kit)
Business rules INSERT (included in Validation kit)
COMMIT Validation COMMIT

UKPRN validation

The check to ensure that Institution.UKPRN is valid, is carried out at INSERT.

If an invalid UKPRN is submitted, only this error will be displayed. The system will not display structural errors (schema checks) or business rule errors/warnings until a valid UKPRN is submitted.

Validation kit checks

HESA provide downloadable validation kits to assist HEPs in the preparation of their data. The validation kits provide some basic structural and 'sense' checks prior to data submission with the aim of reducing the number of errors encountered when submitting data to the live system.

The validation kit will perform two different types of checks:

Schema checks

Checks that the XML is 'well formed' and that it conforms to the rules of the schema definition (the XSD files).

Examples:

  • Every element in the file must have the correct opening and closing tags
  • Elements must be correctly nested
  • Elements must contain the correct type of data (strings, dates, valid entries etc.)
  • Elements that include characters with special meaning in XML (such as greater than, & ampersand, ' apostrophe and " quotation mark) must be replaced with the appropriate entity reference. Further information is available at: http://www.w3schools.com/xml/xml_syntax.asp
  • Elements must be submitted in the sequence defined in the XSD
Business rules

A set of rules to check the business logic of the submission.

Examples:

  • Consistency between pairs or groups of elements
  • Elements that are compulsory under certain circumstances
  • Range checks

Business rules can only be carried out when all structural errors (schema checks) have been resolved. The individual business rules are listed in the specification document for each element.

Business rules can be switched off when running data through the validation kit, both locally and at HESA. Schema checks can never be switched off.

COMMIT-stage quality rules

A further stage of validation will continue to run as a part of the COMMIT transaction in the data collection system. COMMIT-stage quality rules includes check that require comparison with data across an entire return.

Validation kit software

A schema-only validation kit is available for download as an MSI installation file. To install the software you simply need to run the MSI file on a Windows PC. If you do not have access to a Windows PC, please contact Institutional Liaison ([email protected]) for further instructions.

When the validation program is opened it automatically checks the HESA web server for the latest set of rules and updates the package if appropriate.

A quick start guide is included in the application.

The kit utilises the Microsoft .NET framework. This is likely to already be installed on many computers as it is required by much of Microsoft's own software. You can download the .Net framework from Microsoft's website.

If you have any queries with regard to the validation kit then please contact Institutional Liaison ([email protected]).

Following early issue of a schema-only validation kit an updated validation kit will be released in February 2014 that contains both the business rules and COMMIT-stage rules.


Need help?

Contact Liaison by email or on 01242 211144.