OneNote XML Schema Map Notation, Take Two

So, I was so annoyed when I realized I had broken one of the basic rules of information design with my diagram of the OneNote 2003 SP1 SimpleImport schema, I had to take a few minutes and see if I could fix it. As I mentioned in my last entry, my diagram uses indenting and boxes to show the element hierarchy in the OneNote schema. But, because I was illustrating the same information (the element hierarchy) two different ways (indenting and boxing), the diagram contained redundant information, and was more complicated than it needed to be.

And I hated those damn boxes anyway. Chopping a diagram up into a grid like that only ends up distracting from the information. I knew it at the time, but I was on a deadline and couldn’t come up with a better solution, so…

Below is my latest attempt. The grid lines are gone; element hierarchy is denoted now solely by the indenting of the element names. By formatting the information inside each element (such as data type and attributes) gray, I think I’ve been able to keep the element names prominent enough I don’t need boxes to denote where one element ends and another starts.

One thing that I still see as problematic is the indenting of the element information, like the data type and attributes. In this small example, I was able to keep all that information at the same left-alignment for all the elements, which again keeps that information from distracting from the element names. But, had the schema hierarchy included a few more levels, I would’ve had to move the element information even further over, perhaps to the point where it was so far removed from the element names in the top-level elements that it would seem disconnected.

All in all, I think this diagram is quite a bit more successful than the one that currently appears in the article. Looks like it’s time to file a bug and get that image swapped out…

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