Network Working Group                                        H. Birkholz
Internet-Draft                                            Fraunhofer SIT
Intended status: Standards Track                               C. Vigano
Expires: January 3, 2019                             Universitaet Bremen
                                                              C. Bormann
                                                 Universitaet Bremen TZI
                                                           July 02, 2018

  Concise data definition language (CDDL): a notational convention to
                      express CBOR data structures


   This document proposes a notational convention to express CBOR data
   structures (RFC 7049).  Its main goal is to provide an easy and
   unambiguous way to express structures for protocol messages and data
   formats that use CBOR.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on January 3, 2019.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2018 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must

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   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Requirements notation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     1.2.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2.  The Style of Data Structure Specification . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.1.  Groups and Composition in CDDL  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.1.1.  Usage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       2.1.2.  Syntax  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     2.2.  Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       2.2.1.  Values  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       2.2.2.  Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       2.2.3.  Representation Types  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
       2.2.4.  Root type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   3.  Syntax  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.1.  General conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.2.  Occurrence  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     3.3.  Predefined names for types  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     3.4.  Arrays  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     3.5.  Maps  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
       3.5.1.  Structs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
       3.5.2.  Tables  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
       3.5.3.  Cuts in Maps  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
     3.6.  Tags  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20
     3.7.  Unwrapping  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
     3.8.  Controls  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
       3.8.1.  Control operator .size  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  22
       3.8.2.  Control operator .bits  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
       3.8.3.  Control operator .regexp  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  24
       3.8.4.  Control operators .cbor and .cborseq  . . . . . . . .  25
       3.8.5.  Control operators .within and .and  . . . . . . . . .  25
       3.8.6.  Control operators .lt, .le, .gt, .ge, .eq, .ne, and
               .default  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  26
     3.9.  Socket/Plug . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  27
     3.10. Generics  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28
     3.11. Operator Precedence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28
   4.  Making Use of CDDL  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30
     4.1.  As a guide to a human user  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30
     4.2.  For automated checking of CBOR data structure . . . . . .  30
     4.3.  For data analysis tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  31
   5.  Security considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  31
   6.  IANA considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32
     6.1.  CDDL control operator registry  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32
   7.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32

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     7.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32
     7.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  33
   Appendix A.  (Not used.)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  34
   Appendix B.  ABNF grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  34
   Appendix C.  Matching rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36
   Appendix D.  (Not used.)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  40
   Appendix E.  Standard Prelude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  40
     E.1.  Use with JSON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  42
   Appendix F.  The CDDL tool  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  44
   Appendix G.  Extended Diagnostic Notation . . . . . . . . . . . .  44
     G.1.  White space in byte string notation . . . . . . . . . . .  45
     G.2.  Text in byte string notation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  45
     G.3.  Embedded CBOR and CBOR sequences in byte strings  . . . .  45
     G.4.  Concatenated Strings  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  46
     G.5.  Hexadecimal, octal, and binary numbers  . . . . . . . . .  46
     G.6.  Comments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  47
   Appendix H.  Examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  47
     H.1.  RFC 7071  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  48
       H.1.1.  Examples from JSON Content Rules  . . . . . . . . . .  52
   Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  54
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  55

1.  Introduction

   In this document, a notational convention to express CBOR [RFC7049]
   data structures is defined.

   The main goal for the convention is to provide a unified notation
   that can be used when defining protocols that use CBOR.  We term the
   convention "Concise data definition language", or CDDL.

   The CBOR notational convention has the following goals:

   (G1)  Provide an unambiguous description of the overall structure of
         a CBOR data structure.

   (G2)  Flexibility to express the freedoms of choice in the CBOR data

   (G3)  Possibility to restrict format choices where appropriate

   (G4)  Able to express common CBOR datatypes and structures.

   (G5)  Human and machine readable and processable.

   (G6)  Automatic checking of data format compliance.

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   (G7)  Extraction of specific elements from CBOR data for further

   Not an explicit goal per se, but a convenient side effect of the JSON
   generic data model being a subset of the CBOR generic data model, is
   the fact that CDDL can also be used for describing JSON data
   structures (see Appendix E.1).

   This document has the following structure:

   The syntax of CDDL is defined in Section 3.  Examples of CDDL and
   related CBOR data items ("instances") are defined in Appendix H.
   Section 4 discusses usage of CDDL.  Examples are provided early in
   the text to better illustrate concept definitions.  A formal
   definition of CDDL using ABNF grammar is provided in Appendix B.
   Finally, a _prelude_ of standard CDDL definitions that is
   automatically prepended to and thus available in every CBOR
   specification is listed in Appendix E.

1.1.  Requirements notation

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC
   2119, BCP 14 [RFC2119].

1.2.  Terminology

   New terms are introduced in _cursive_.  CDDL text in the running text
   is in "typewriter".

2.  The Style of Data Structure Specification

   CDDL focuses on styles of specification that are in use in the
   community employing the data model as pioneered by JSON and now
   refined in CBOR.

   There are a number of more or less atomic elements of a CBOR data
   model, such as numbers, simple values (false, true, nil), text and
   byte strings; CDDL does not focus on specifying their structure.
   CDDL of course also allows adding a CBOR tag to a data item.

   The more important components of a data structure definition language
   are the data types used for composition: arrays and maps in CBOR
   (called arrays and objects in JSON).  While these are only two
   representation formats, they are used to specify four loosely
   distinguishable styles of composition:

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   o  A _vector_, an array of elements that are mostly of the same
      semantics.  The set of signatures associated with a signed data
      item is a typical application of a vector.

   o  A _record_, an array the elements of which have different,
      positionally defined semantics, as detailed in the data structure
      definition.  A 2D point, specified as an array of an x coordinate
      (which comes first) and a y coordinate (coming second) is an
      example of a record, as is the pair of exponent (first) and
      mantissa (second) in a CBOR decimal fraction.

   o  A _table_, a map from a domain of map keys to a domain of map
      values, that are mostly of the same semantics.  A set of language
      tags, each mapped to a text string translated to that specific
      language, is an example of a table.  The key domain is usually not
      limited to a specific set by the specification, but open for the
      application, e.g., in a table mapping IP addresses to MAC
      addresses, the specification does not attempt to foresee all
      possible IP addresses.  In a language such as JavaScript, a "Map"
      (as opposed to a plain "Object") would often be employed to
      achieve the generality of the key domain.

   o  A _struct_, a map from a domain of map keys as defined by the
      specification to a domain of map values the semantics of each of
      which is bound to a specific map key.  This is what many people
      have in mind when they think about JSON objects; CBOR adds the
      ability to use map keys that are not just text strings.  Structs
      can be used to solve similar problems as records; the use of
      explicit map keys facilitates optionality and extensibility.

   Two important concepts provide the foundation for CDDL:

   1.  Instead of defining all four types of composition in CDDL
       separately, or even defining one kind for arrays (vectors and
       records) and one kind for maps (tables and structs), there is
       only one kind of composition in CDDL: the _group_ (Section 2.1).

   2.  The other important concept is that of a _type_.  The entire CDDL
       specification defines a type (the one defined by its first
       _rule_), which formally is the set of CBOR data items that are
       acceptable as "instances" for this specification.  CDDL
       predefines a number of basic types such as "uint" (unsigned
       integer) or "tstr" (text string), often making use of a simple
       formal notation for CBOR data items.  Each value that can be
       expressed as a CBOR data item also is a type in its own right,
       e.g. "1".  A type can be built as a _choice_ of other types,
       e.g., an "int" is either a "uint" or a "nint" (negative integer).
       Finally, a type can be built as an array or a map from a group.

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   The rest of this section introduces a number of basic concepts of
   CDDL, and section Section 3 defines additional syntax.  Appendix C
   gives a concise summary of the semantics of CDDL.

2.1.  Groups and Composition in CDDL

   CDDL Groups are lists of group _entries_, each of which can be a
   name/value pair or a more complex group expression composed of name/
   value pairs.

   In an array context, only the value of the entry is represented; the
   name is annotation only (and can be left off if not needed).  In a
   map context, the names become the map keys ("member keys").

   In an array context, the sequence of elements in the group is
   important, as it is the information that allows associating actual
   array elements with entries in the group.  In a map context, the
   sequence of entries in a group is not relevant (but there is still a
   need to write down group entries in a sequence).

   A simple example of using a group right in a map definition is:

                             person = {
                               age: int,
                               name: tstr,
                               employer: tstr,

                     Figure 1: Using a group in a map

   The three entries of the group are written between the curly braces
   that create the map: Here, "age", "name", and "employer" are the
   names that turn into the map key text strings, and "int" and "tstr"
   (text string) are the types of the map values under these keys.

   A group by itself (without creating a map around it) can be placed in
   (round) parentheses, and given a name by using it in a rule:

                             pii = (
                               age: int,
                               name: tstr,
                               employer: tstr,

                          Figure 2: A basic group

   This separate, named group definition allows us to rephrase Figure 1

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                                person = {

                      Figure 3: Using a group by name

   Note that the (curly) braces signify the creation of a map; the
   groups themselves are neutral as to whether they will be used in a
   map or an array.

   As shown in Figure 1, the parentheses for groups are optional when
   there is some other set of brackets present.  Note that they can
   still be used, leading to the not so realistic, but perfectly valid

                             person = {(
                               age: int,
                               name: tstr,
                               employer: tstr,

   Groups can be used to factor out common parts of structs, e.g.,
   instead of writing copy/paste style specifications such as in
   Figure 4, one can factor out the common subgroup, choose a name for
   it, and write only the specific parts into the individual maps
   (Figure 5).

                          person = {
                            age: int,
                            name: tstr,
                            employer: tstr,

                          dog = {
                            age: int,
                            name: tstr,
                            leash-length: float,

                      Figure 4: Maps with copy/paste

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                          person = {
                            employer: tstr,

                          dog = {
                            leash-length: float,

                          identity = (
                            age: int,
                            name: tstr,

                 Figure 5: Using a group for factorization

   Note that the lists inside the braces in the above definitions
   constitute (anonymous) groups, while "identity" is a named group.

2.1.1.  Usage

   Groups are the instrument used in composing data structures with
   CDDL.  It is a matter of style in defining those structures whether
   to define groups (anonymously) right in their contexts or whether to
   define them in a separate rule and to reference them with their
   respective name (possibly more than once).

   With this, one is allowed to define all small parts of their data
   structures and compose bigger protocol units with those or to have
   only one big protocol data unit that has all definitions ad hoc where

2.1.2.  Syntax

   The composition syntax intends to be concise and easy to read:

   o  The start of a group can be marked by '('

   o  The end of a group can be marked by ')'

   o  Definitions of entries inside of a group are noted as follows:
      _keytype => valuetype,_ (read "keytype maps to valuetype").  The
      comma is actually optional (not just in the final entry), but it
      is considered good style to set it.  The double arrow can be
      replaced by a colon in the common case of directly using a text
      string or integer literal as a key (see Section 3.5.1).

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   A basic entry consists of a _keytype_ and a _valuetype_, both of
   which are types (Section 2.2).

   A group definition can also contain choices between groups, see
   Section 2.2.2.

2.2.  Types

2.2.1.  Values

   Values such as numbers and strings can be used in place of a type.
   (For instance, this is a very common thing to do for a keytype,
   common enough that CDDL provides additional convenience syntax for

   The value notation is based on the C language, but does not offer all
   the syntactic variations Appendix B.  The value notation for numbers
   inherits from C the distinction between integer values (no fractional
   part or exponent given -- NR1 [ISO6093]) and floating point values
   (where a fractional part and/or an exponent is present -- NR2 or
   NR3), so the type "1" does not include any floating point numbers
   while the types "1e3" and "1.5" are both floating point Numbers and
   do not include any integer numbers.

2.2.2.  Choices

   Many places that allow a type also allow a choice between types,
   delimited by a "/" (slash).  The entire choice construct can be put
   into parentheses if this is required to make the construction
   unambiguous (please see Appendix B for the details).

   Choices of values can be used to express enumerations:

            attire = "bow tie" / "necktie" / "Internet attire"
            protocol = 6 / 17

   Similarly as for types, CDDL also allows choices between groups,
   delimited by a "//" (double slash).

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                   address = { delivery }

                   delivery = (
                   street: tstr, ? number: uint, city //
                   po-box: uint, city //
                   per-pickup: true )

                   city = (
                   name: tstr, zip-code: uint

   Both for type choices and for group choices, additional alternatives
   can be added to a rule later in separate rules by using "/=" and
   "//=", respectively, instead of "=":

                 attire /= "swimwear"

                 delivery //= (
                 lat: float, long: float, drone-type: tstr

   It is not an error if a name is first used with a "/=" or "//="
   (there is no need to "create it" with "=").  Ranges

   Instead of naming all the values that make up a choice, CDDL allows
   building a _range_ out of two values that are in an ordering
   relationship.  A range can be inclusive of both ends given (denoted
   by joining two values by ".."), or include the first and exclude the
   second (denoted by instead using "...").

         device-address = byte
         max-byte = 255
         byte = 0..max-byte ; inclusive range
         first-non-byte = 256
         byte1 = 0...first-non-byte ; byte1 is equivalent to byte

   CDDL currently only allows ranges between numbers [_range].  Turning a group into a choice

   Some choices are built out of large numbers of values, often
   integers, each of which is best given a semantic name in the
   specification.  Instead of naming each of these integers and then
   accumulating these into a choice, CDDL allows building a choice from
   a group by prefixing it with a "&" character:

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              terminal-color = &basecolors
              basecolors = (
                black: 0, red: 1,  green: 2,  yellow: 3,
                blue: 4,  magenta: 5,  cyan: 6,  white: 7,
              extended-color = &(
                orange: 8,  pink: 9,  purple: 10,  brown: 11,

   As with the use of groups in arrays (Section 3.4), the membernames
   have only documentary value (in particular, they might be used by a
   tool when displaying integers that are taken from that choice).

2.2.3.  Representation Types

   CDDL allows the specification of a data item type by referring to the
   CBOR representation (major and minor numbers).  How this is used
   should be evident from the prelude (Appendix E).

   It may be necessary to make use of representation types outside the
   prelude, e.g., a specification could start by making use of an
   existing tag in a more specific way, or define a new tag not defined
   in the prelude:

      my_breakfast = #6.55799(breakfast)   ; cbor-any is too general!
      breakfast = cereal / porridge
      cereal = #6.998(tstr)
      porridge = #6.999([liquid, solid])
      liquid = milk / water
      milk = 0
      water = 1
      solid = tstr

2.2.4.  Root type

   There is no special syntax to identify the root of a CDDL data
   structure definition: that role is simply taken by the first rule
   defined in the file.

   This is motivated by the usual top-down approach for defining data
   structures, decomposing a big data structure unit into smaller parts;
   however, except for the root type, there is no need to strictly
   follow this sequence.

   (Note that there is no way to use a group as a root - it must be a
   type.  Using a group as the root might be employed as a way to
   specify a CBOR sequence in a future version of this specification;

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   this would act as if that group is used in an array and the data
   items in that fictional array form the members of the CBOR sequence.)

3.  Syntax

   In this section, the overall syntax of CDDL is shown, alongside some
   examples just illustrating syntax.  (The definition will not attempt
   to be overly formal; refer to Appendix B for the details.)

3.1.  General conventions

   The basic syntax is inspired by ABNF [RFC5234], with

   o  rules, whether they define groups or types, are defined with a
      name, followed by an equals sign "=" and the actual definition
      according to the respective syntactic rules of that definition.

   o  A name can consist of any of the characters from the set {'A',
      ..., 'Z', 'a', ..., 'z', '0', ..., '9', '_', '-', '@', '.', '$'},
      starting with an alphabetic character (including '@', '_', '$')
      and ending in one or a digit.

      *  Names are case sensitive.

      *  It is preferred style to start a name with a lower case letter.

      *  The hyphen is preferred over the underscore (except in a
         "bareword" (Section 3.5.1), where the semantics may actually
         require an underscore).

      *  The period may be useful for larger specifications, to express
         some module structure (as in "tcp.throughput" vs.

      *  A number of names are predefined in the CDDL prelude, as listed
         in Appendix E.

      *  Rule names (types or groups) do not appear in the actual CBOR
         encoding, but names used as "barewords" in member keys do.

   o  Comments are started by a ';' (semicolon) character and finish at
      the end of a line (LF or CRLF).

   o  outside strings, whitespace (spaces, newlines, and comments) is
      used to separate syntactic elements for readability (and to
      separate identifiers or numbers that follow each other); it is
      otherwise completely optional.

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   o  Hexadecimal numbers are preceded by '0x' (without quotes, lower
      case x), and are case insensitive.  Similarly, binary numbers are
      preceded by '0b'.

   o  Text strings are enclosed by double quotation '"' characters.
      They follow the conventions for strings as defined in section 7 of
      [RFC8259].  (ABNF users may want to note that there is no support
      in CDDL for the concept of case insensitivity in text strings; if
      necessary, regular expressions can be used (Section 3.8.3).)

   o  Byte strings are enclosed by single quotation "'" characters and
      may be prefixed by "h" or "b64".  If unprefixed, the string is
      interpreted as with a text string, except that single quotes must
      be escaped and that the UTF-8 bytes resulting are marked as a byte
      string (major type 2).  If prefixed as "h" or "b64", the string is
      interpreted as a sequence of hex digits or a base64(url) string,
      respectively (as with the diagnostic notation in section 6 of
      [RFC7049]; cf. Appendix G.2); any white space present within the
      string (including comments) is ignored in the prefixed case.

   o  CDDL uses UTF-8 [RFC3629] for its encoding.


                    ; This is a comment
                    person = { g }

                    g = (
                      "name": tstr,
                      age: int,  ; "age" is a bareword

3.2.  Occurrence

   An optional _occurrence_ indicator can be given in front of a group
   entry.  It is either one of the characters '?' (optional), '*' (zero
   or more), or '+' (one or more), or is of the form n*m, where n and m
   are optional unsigned integers and n is the lower limit (default 0)
   and m is the upper limit (default no limit) of occurrences.

   If no occurrence indicator is specified, the group entry is to occur
   exactly once (as if 1*1 were specified).

   Note that CDDL, outside any directives/annotations that could
   possibly be defined, does not make any prescription as to whether
   arrays or maps use the definite length or indefinite length encoding.
   I.e., there is no correlation between leaving the size of an array

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   "open" in the spec and the fact that it is then interchanged with
   definite or indefinite length.

   Please also note that CDDL can describe flexibility that the data
   model of the target representation does not have.  This is rather
   obvious for JSON, but also is relevant for CBOR:

   apartment = {
     kitchen: size,
     * bedroom: size,
   size = float ; in m2

   The previous specification does not mean that CBOR is changed to
   allow to use the key "bedroom" more than once.  In other words, due
   to the restrictions imposed by the data model, the third line pretty
   much turns into:

     ? bedroom: size,

   (Occurrence indicators beyond one still are useful in maps for groups
   that allow a variety of keys.)

3.3.  Predefined names for types

   CDDL predefines a number of names.  This subsection summarizes these
   names, but please see Appendix E for the exact definitions.

   The following keywords for primitive datatypes are defined:

   "bool"  Boolean value (major type 7, additional information 20 or

   "uint"  An unsigned integer (major type 0).

   "nint"  A negative integer (major type 1).

   "int"  An unsigned integer or a negative integer.

   "float16"  A number representable as an IEEE 754 half-precision float
      (major type 7, additional information 25).

   "float32"  A number representable as an IEEE 754 single-precision
      float (major type 7, additional information 26).

   "float64"  A number representable as an IEEE 754 double-precision
      float (major type 7, additional information 27).

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   "float"  One of float16, float32, or float64.

   "bstr" or "bytes"  A byte string (major type 2).

   "tstr" or "text"  Text string (major type 3)

   (Note that there are no predefined names for arrays or maps; these
   are defined with the syntax given below.)

   In addition, a number of types are defined in the prelude that are
   associated with CBOR tags, such as "tdate", "bigint", "regexp" etc.

3.4.  Arrays

   Array definitions surround a group with square brackets.

   For each entry, an occurrence indicator as specified in Section 3.2
   is permitted.

   For example:

                     unlimited-people = [* person]
                     one-or-two-people = [1*2 person]
                     at-least-two-people = [2* person]
                     person = (
                         name: tstr,
                         age: uint,

   The group "person" is defined in such a way that repeating it in the
   array each time generates alternating names and ages, so these are
   four valid values for a data item of type "unlimited-people":

      ["roundlet", 1047, "psychurgy", 2204, "extrarhythmical", 2231]
      ["aluminize", 212, "climograph", 4124]
      ["penintime", 1513, "endocarditis", 4084, "impermeator", 1669,
       "coextension", 865]

3.5.  Maps

   The syntax for specifying maps merits special attention, as well as a
   number of optimizations and conveniences, as it is likely to be the
   focal point of many specifications employing CDDL.  While the syntax
   does not strictly distinguish struct and table usage of maps, it
   caters specifically to each of them.

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   But first, let's reiterate a feature of CBOR that it has inherited
   from JSON: The key/value pairs in CBOR maps have no fixed ordering.
   (One could imagine situations where fixing the ordering may be of
   use.  For example, a decoder could look for values related with
   integer keys 1, 3 and 7.  If the order were fixed and the decoder
   encounters the key 4 without having encountered key 3, it could
   conclude that key 3 is not available without doing more complicated
   bookkeeping.  Unfortunately, neither JSON nor CBOR support this, so
   no attempt was made to support this in CDDL either.)

3.5.1.  Structs

   The "struct" usage of maps is similar to the way JSON objects are
   used in many JSON applications.

   A map is defined in the same way as defining an array (see
   Section 3.4), except for using curly braces "{}" instead of square
   brackets "[]".

   An occurrence indicator as specified in Section 3.2 is permitted for
   each group entry.

   The following is an example of a structure:

         Geography = [
           city           : tstr,
           gpsCoordinates : GpsCoordinates,

         GpsCoordinates = {
           longitude      : uint,            ; multiplied by 10^7
           latitude       : uint,            ; multiplied by 10^7

   When encoding, the Geography structure is encoded using a CBOR array
   with two entries (the keys for the group entries are ignored),
   whereas the GpsCoordinates are encoded as a CBOR map with two key/
   value pairs.

   Types used in a structure can be defined in separate rules or just in
   place (potentially placed inside parentheses, such as for choices).

                           located-samples = {
                             sample-point: int,
                             samples: [+ float],

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   where "located-samples" is the datatype to be used when referring to
   the struct, and "sample-point" and "samples" are the keys to be used.
   This is actually a complete example: an identifier that is followed
   by a colon can be directly used as the text string for a member key
   (we speak of a "bareword" member key), as can a double-quoted string
   or a number.  (When other types, in particular multi-valued ones, are
   used as keytypes, they are followed by a double arrow, see below.)

   If a text string key does not match the syntax for an identifier (or
   if the specifier just happens to prefer using double quotes), the
   text string syntax can also be used in the member key position,
   followed by a colon.  The above example could therefore have been
   written with quoted strings in the member key positions.  More
   generally, all the types defined can be used in a keytype position by
   following them with a double arrow -- in particular, the double arrow
   is necessary if a type is named by an identifier (which would be
   interpreted as a string before a colon).  A string also is a (single-
   valued) type, so another form for this example is:

                         located-samples = {
                           "sample-point" => int,
                           "samples" => [+ float],

   See Section 3.5.3 below for how the colon shortcut described here
   also adds some implied semantics.

   A better way to demonstrate the double-arrow use may be:

             located-samples = {
               sample-point: int,
               samples: [+ float],
               * equipment-type => equipment-tolerances,
             equipment-type = [name: tstr, manufacturer: tstr]
             equipment-tolerances = [+ [float, float]]

   The example below defines a struct with optional entries: display
   name (as a text string), the name components first name and family
   name (as a map of text strings), and age information (as an unsigned

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                          PersonalData = {
                            ? displayName: tstr,
                            ? age: uint,

                          NameComponents = (
                            ? firstName: tstr,
                            ? familyName: tstr,

   Note that the group definition for NameComponents does not generate
   another map; instead, all four keys are directly in the struct built
   by PersonalData.

   In this example, all key/value pairs are optional from the
   perspective of CDDL.  With no occurrence indicator, an entry is

   If the addition of more entries not specified by the current
   specification is desired, one can add this possibility explicitly:

                          PersonalData = {
                            ? displayName: tstr,
                            ? age: uint,
                            * tstr => any

                          NameComponents = (
                            ? firstName: tstr,
                            ? familyName: tstr,

            Figure 6: Personal Data: Example for extensibility

   The cddl tool (Appendix F) generated as one acceptable instance for
   this specification:

         {"familyName": "agust", "antiforeignism": "pretzel",
          "springbuck": "illuminatingly", "exuviae": "ephemeris",
          "kilometrage": "frogfish"}

   (See Section 3.9 for one way to explicitly identify an extension

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3.5.2.  Tables

   A table can be specified by defining a map with entries where the
   keytype is not single-valued, e.g.:

                         square-roots = {* x => y}
                         x = int
                         y = float

   Here, the key in each key/value pair has datatype x (defined as int),
   and the value has datatype y (defined as float).

   If the specification does not need to restrict one of x or y (i.e.,
   the application is free to choose per entry), it can be replaced by
   the predefined name "any".

   As another example, the following could be used as a conversion table
   converting from an integer or float to a string:

                      tostring = {* mynumber => tstr}
                      mynumber = int / float

3.5.3.  Cuts in Maps

   The extensibility idiom discussed above for structs has one problem:

                        extensible-map-example = {
                          ? "optional-key" => int,
                          * tstr => any

   In this example, there is one optional key "optional-key", which,
   when present, maps to an integer.  There is also a wild card for any
   future additions.

   Unfortunately, the data item

                      { "optional-key": "nonsense" }

   does match this specification: While the first entry of the group
   does not match, the second one (the wildcard) does.  This may be very
   well desirable (e.g., if a future extension is to be allowed to
   extend the type of "optional-key"), but in many cases isn't.

   In anticipation of a more general potential feature called "cuts",
   CDDL allows inserting a cut "^" into the definition of the map entry:

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                       extensible-map-example = {
                         ? "optional-key" ^ => int,
                         * tstr => any

   A cut in this position means that once the map key matches the entry
   carrying the cut, other potential matches for the key that occur in
   later entries in the group of the map are no longer allowed.  (This
   rule applies independent of whether the value matches, too.)  So the
   example above no longer matches the version modified with a cut.

   Since the desire for this kind of exclusive matching is so frequent,
   the ":" shortcut is actually defined to include the cut semantics.
   So the preceding example (including the cut) can be written more
   simply as:

                        extensible-map-example = {
                          ? "optional-key": int,
                          * tstr => any

   or even shorter, using a bareword for the key:

                        extensible-map-example = {
                          ? optional-key: int,
                          * tstr => any

3.6.  Tags

   A type can make use of a CBOR tag (major type 6) by using the
   representation type notation, giving #6.nnn(type) where nnn is an
   unsigned integer giving the tag number and "type" is the type of the
   data item being tagged.

   For example, the following line from the CDDL prelude (Appendix E)
   defines "biguint" as a type name for a positive bignum N:

                           biguint = #6.2(bstr)

   The tags defined by [RFC7049] are included in the prelude.
   Additional tags since registered need to be added to a CDDL
   specification as needed; e.g., a binary UUID tag could be referenced
   as "buuid" in a specification after defining

                            buuid = #6.37(bstr)

   In the following example, usage of the tag 32 for URIs is optional:

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                        my_uri = #6.32(tstr) / tstr

3.7.  Unwrapping

   The group that is used to define a map or an array can often be
   reused in the definition of another map or array.  Similarly, a type
   defined as a tag carries an internal data item that one would like to
   refer to.  In these cases, it is expedient to simply use the name of
   the map, array, or tag type as a handle for the group or type defined
   inside it.

   The "unwrap" operator (written by preceding a name by a tilde
   character "~") can be used to strip the type defined for a name by
   one layer, exposing the underlying group (for maps and arrays) or
   type (for tags).

   For example, an application might want to define a basic and an
   advanced header.  Without unwrapping, this might be done as follows:

   basic-header-group = (
     field1: int,
     field2: text,

   basic-header = [ basic-header-group ]

   advanced-header = [
     field3: bytes,
     field4: number, ; as in the tagged type "time"

   Unwrapping simplifies this to:

   basic-header = [
     field1: int,
     field2: text,

   advanced-header = [
     field3: bytes,
     field4: ~time,

   (Note that leaving out the first unwrap operator in the latter
   example would lead to nesting the basic-header in its own array
   inside the advanced-header, while, with the unwrapped basic-header,

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   the definition of the group inside basic-header is essentially
   repeated inside advanced-header, leading to a single array.  This can
   be used for various applications often solved by inheritance in
   programming languages.  The effect of unwrapping can also be
   described as "threading in" the group or type inside the referenced
   type, which suggested the thread-like "~" character.)

3.8.  Controls

   A _control_ allows to relate a _target_ type with a _controller_ type
   via a _control operator_.

   The syntax for a control type is "target .control-operator
   controller", where control operators are special identifiers prefixed
   by a dot.  (Note that _target_ or _controller_ might need to be

   A number of control operators are defined at his point.  Note that
   the CDDL tool does not currently support combining multiple controls
   on a single target.

3.8.1.  Control operator .size

   A ".size" control controls the size of the target in bytes by the
   control type.  Examples:

                   full-address = [[+ label], ip4, ip6]
                   ip4 = bstr .size 4
                   ip6 = bstr .size 16
                   label = bstr .size (1..63)

                    Figure 7: Control for size in bytes

   When applied to an unsigned integer, the ".size" control restricts
   the range of that integer by giving a maximum number of bytes that
   should be needed in a computer representation of that unsigned
   integer.  In other words, "uint .size N" is equivalent to
   "0...BYTES_N", where BYTES_N == 256**N.

      audio_sample = uint .size 3 ; 24-bit, equivalent to 0..16777215

                Figure 8: Control for integer size in bytes

   Note that, as with value restrictions in CDDL, this control is not a
   representation constraint; a number that fits into fewer bytes can
   still be represented in that form, and an inefficient implementation
   could use a longer form (unless that is restricted by some format

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   constraints outside of CDDL, such as the rules in Section 3.9 of

3.8.2.  Control operator .bits

   A ".bits" control on a byte string indicates that, in the target,
   only the bits numbered by a number in the control type are allowed to
   be set.  (Bits are counted the usual way, bit number "n" being set in
   "str" meaning that "(str[n >> 3] & (1 << (n & 7))) != 0".)

   Similarly, a ".bits" control on an unsigned integer "i" indicates
   that for all unsigned integers "n" where "(i & (1 << n)) != 0", "n"
   must be in the control type.

                      tcpflagbytes = bstr .bits flags
                      flags = &(
                        fin: 8,
                        syn: 9,
                        rst: 10,
                        psh: 11,
                        ack: 12,
                        urg: 13,
                        ece: 14,
                        cwr: 15,
                        ns: 0,
                      ) / (4..7) ; data offset bits

                      rwxbits = uint .bits rwx
                      rwx = &(r: 2, w: 1, x: 0)

                Figure 9: Control for what bits can be set

   The CDDL tool generates the following ten example instances for

      h'906d' h'01fc' h'8145' h'01b7' h'013d' h'409f' h'018e' h'c05f'
      h'01fa' h'01fe'

   These examples do not illustrate that the above CDDL specification
   does not explicitly specify a size of two bytes: A valid all clear
   instance of flag bytes could be "h''" or "h'00'" or even "h'000000'"
   as well.

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3.8.3.  Control operator .regexp

   A ".regexp" control indicates that the text string given as a target
   needs to match the XSD regular expression given as a value in the
   control type.  XSD regular expressions are defined in Appendix F of

     nai = tstr .regexp "[A-Za-z0-9]+@[A-Za-z0-9]+(\\.[A-Za-z0-9]+)+"

                   Figure 10: Control with an XSD regexp

   The CDDL tool proposes:

                       "N1@CH57HF.4Znqe0.dYJRN.igjf"  Usage considerations

   Note that XSD regular expressions do not support the usual \x or \u
   escapes for hexadecimal expression of bytes or unicode code points.
   However, in CDDL the XSD regular expressions are contained in text
   strings, the literal notation for which provides \u escapes; this
   should suffice for most applications that use regular expressions for
   text strings.  (Note that this also means that there is one level of
   string escaping before the XSD escaping rules are applied.)

   XSD regular expressions support character class subtraction, a
   feature often not found in regular expression libraries;
   specification writers may want to use this feature sparingly.
   Similar considerations apply to Unicode character classes; where
   these are used, the specification SHOULD identify which Unicode
   versions are addressed.

   Other surprises for infrequent users of XSD regular expressions may

   o  No direct support for case insensitivity.  While case
      insensitivity has gone mostly out of fashion in protocol design,
      it is sometimes needed and then needs to be expressed manually as
      in "[Cc][Aa][Ss][Ee]".

   o  The support for popular character classes such as \w and \d is
      based on Unicode character properties, which is often not what is
      desired in an ASCII-based protocol and thus might lead to
      surprises.  (\s and \S do have their more conventional meanings,
      and "." matches any character but the line ending characters \r or

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   There are many flavors of regular expression in use in the
   programming community.  For instance, perl-compatible regular
   expressions (PCRE) are widely used and probably are more useful than
   XSD regular expressions.  However, there is no normative reference
   for PCRE that could be used in the present document.  Instead, we opt
   for XSD regular expressions for now.  There is precedent for that
   choice in the IETF, e.g., in YANG [RFC7950].

   Note that CDDL uses controls as its main extension point.  This
   creates the opportunity to add further regular expression formats in
   addition to the one referenced here if desired.  As an example, a
   control ".pcre" is defined in [I-D.bormann-cbor-cddl-freezer].

3.8.4.  Control operators .cbor and .cborseq

   A ".cbor" control on a byte string indicates that the byte string
   carries a CBOR encoded data item.  Decoded, the data item matches the
   type given as the right-hand side argument (type1 in the following

      "bytes .cbor type1"

   Similarly, a ".cborseq" control on a byte string indicates that the
   byte string carries a sequence of CBOR encoded data items.  When the
   data items are taken as an array, the array matches the type given as
   the right-hand side argument (type2 in the following example).

      "bytes .cborseq type2"

   (The conversion of the encoded sequence to an array can be effected
   for instance by wrapping the byte string between the two bytes 0x9f
   and 0xff and decoding the wrapped byte string as a CBOR encoded data

3.8.5.  Control operators .within and .and

   A ".and" control on a type indicates that the data item matches both
   that left hand side type and the type given as the right hand side.
   (Formally, the resulting type is the intersection of the two types

      "type1 .and type2"

   A variant of the ".and" control is the ".within" control, which
   expresses an additional intent: the left hand side type is meant to
   be a subset of the right-hand-side type.

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      "type1 .within type2"

   While both forms have the identical formal semantics (intersection),
   the intention of the ".within" form is that the right hand side gives
   guidance to the types allowed on the left hand side, which typically
   is a socket (Section 3.9):

   message = $message .within message-structure
   message-structure = [message_type, *message_option]
   message_type = 0..255
   message_option = any

   $message /= [3, dough: text, topping: [* text]]
   $message /= [4, noodles: text, sauce: text, parmesan: bool]

   For ".within", a tool might flag an error if type1 allows data items
   that are not allowed by type2.  In contrast, for ".and", there is no
   expectation that type1 already is a subset of type2.

3.8.6.  Control operators .lt, .le, .gt, .ge, .eq, .ne, and .default

   The controls .lt, .le, .gt, .ge, .eq, .ne specify a constraint on the
   left hand side type to be a value less than, less than or equal,
   equal to, not equal to, greater than, or greater than or equal to a
   value given as a (single-valued) right hand side type.  In the
   present specification, the first four controls (.lt, .le, .gt, .ge)
   are defined only for numeric types, as these have a natural ordering

   speed = number .ge 0  ; unit: m/s

   A variant of the ".ne" control is the ".default" control, which
   expresses an additional intent: the value specified by the right-
   hand-side type is intended as a default value for the left hand side
   type given, and the implied .ne control is there to prevent this
   value from being sent over the wire.  This control is only meaningful
   when the control type is used in an optional context; otherwise there
   would be no way to express the default value.

   timer = {
     time: uint,
     ? displayed-step: (number .gt 0) .default 1

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3.9.  Socket/Plug

   Both for type choices and group choices, a mechanism is defined that
   facilitates starting out with empty choices and assembling them
   later, potentially in separate files that are concatenated to build
   the full specification.

   Per convention, CDDL extension points are marked with a leading
   dollar sign (types) or two leading dollar signs (groups).  Tools
   honor that convention by not raising an error if such a type or group
   is not defined at all; the symbol is then taken to be an empty type
   choice (group choice), i.e., no choice is available.

            tcp-header = {seq: uint, ack: uint, * $$tcp-option}

            ; later, in a different file

            $$tcp-option //= (
            sack: [+(left: uint, right: uint)]

            ; and, maybe in another file

            $$tcp-option //= (
            sack-permitted: true

   Names that start with a single "$" are "type sockets", names with a
   double "$$" are "group sockets".  It is not an error if there is no
   definition for a socket at all; this then means there is no way to
   satisfy the rule (i.e., the choice is empty).

   All definitions (plugs) for socket names must be augmentations, i.e.,
   they must be using "/=" and "//=", respectively.

   To pick up the example illustrated in Figure 6, the socket/plug
   mechanism could be used as shown in Figure 11:

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                     PersonalData = {
                       ? displayName: tstr,
                       ? age: uint,
                       * $$personaldata-extensions

                     NameComponents = (
                       ? firstName: tstr,
                       ? familyName: tstr,

                     ; The above already works as is.
                     ; But then, we can add later:

                     $$personaldata-extensions //= (
                       favorite-salsa: tstr,

                     ; and again, somewhere else:

                     $$personaldata-extensions //= (
                       shoesize: uint,

     Figure 11: Personal Data example: Using socket/plug extensibility

3.10.  Generics

   Using angle brackets, the left hand side of a rule can add formal
   parameters after the name being defined, as in:

      messages = message<"reboot", "now"> / message<"sleep", 1..100>
      message<t, v> = {type: t, value: v}

   When using a generic rule, the formal parameters are bound to the
   actual arguments supplied (also using angle brackets), within the
   scope of the generic rule (as if there were a rule of the form
   parameter = argument).

   (There are some limitations to nesting of generics in Appendix F at
   this time.)

3.11.  Operator Precedence

   As with any language that has multiple syntactic features such as
   prefix and infix operators, CDDL has operators that bind more tightly
   than others.  This is becoming more complicated than, say, in ABNF,

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   as CDDL has both types and groups, with operators that are specific
   to these concepts.  Type operators (such as "/" for type choice)
   operate on types, while group operators (such as "//" for group
   choice) operate on groups.  Types can simply be used in groups, but
   groups need to be bracketed (as arrays or maps) to become types.  So,
   type operators naturally bind closer than group operators.

   For instance, in

   t = [group1]
   group1 = (a / b // c / d)
   a = 1 b = 2 c = 3 d = 4

   group1 is a group choice between the type choice of a and b and the
   type choice of c and d.  This becomes more relevant once member keys
   and/or occurrences are added in:

   t = {group2}
   group2 = (? ab: a / b // cd: c / d)
   a = 1 b = 2 c = 3 d = 4

   is a group choice between the optional member "ab" of type a or b and
   the member "cd" of type c or d.  Note that the optionality is
   attached to the first choice ("ab"), not to the second choice.

   Similarly, in

   t = [group3]
   group3 = (+ a / b / c)
   a = 1 b = 2 c = 3

   group3 is a repetition of a type choice between a, b, and c [unflex];
   if just a is to be repeatable, a group choice is needed to focus the

   t = [group4]
   group4 = (+ a // b / c)
   a = 1 b = 2 c = 3

   group4 is a group choice between a repeatable a and a single b or c.

   In general, as with many other languages with operator precedence
   rules, it is best not to rely on them, but to insert parentheses for

   t = [group4a]
   group4a = ((+ a) // (b / c))
   a = 1 b = 2 c = 3

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   The operator precedences, in sequence of loose to tight binding, are
   defined in Appendix B and summarized in Table 1.  (Arities given are
   1 for unary prefix operators and 2 for binary infix operators.)

           | Operator | Ar | Operates on               | Prec |
           |    =     |  2 | name = type, name = group |    1 |
           |    /=    |  2 | name /= type              |    1 |
           |   //=    |  2 | name //= group            |    1 |
           |    //    |  2 | group // group            |    2 |
           |    ,     |  2 | group, group              |    3 |
           |    *     |  1 | * group                   |    4 |
           |   N*M    |  1 | N*M group                 |    4 |
           |    +     |  1 | + group                   |    4 |
           |    ?     |  1 | ? group                   |    4 |
           |    =>    |  2 | type => type              |    5 |
           |    :     |  2 | name: type                |    5 |
           |    /     |  2 | type / type               |    6 |
           |    &     |  1 | &group                    |    6 |
           |    ..    |  2 | type..type                |    7 |
           |   ...    |  2 | type...type               |    7 |
           |  .anno   |  2 | type .anno type           |    7 |

                 Table 1: Summary of operator precedences

4.  Making Use of CDDL

   In this section, we discuss several potential ways to employ CDDL.

4.1.  As a guide to a human user

   CDDL can be used to efficiently define the layout of CBOR data, such
   that a human implementer can easily see how data is supposed to be

   Since CDDL maps parts of the CBOR data to human readable names, tools
   could be built that use CDDL to provide a human friendly
   representation of the CBOR data, and allow them to edit such data
   while remaining compliant to its CDDL definition.

4.2.  For automated checking of CBOR data structure

   CDDL has been specified such that a machine can handle the CDDL
   definition and related CBOR data (and, thus, also JSON data).  For
   example, a machine could use CDDL to check whether or not CBOR data
   is compliant to its definition.

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   The need for thoroughness of such compliance checking depends on the
   application.  For example, an application may decide not to check the
   data structure at all, and use the CDDL definition solely as a means
   to indicate the structure of the data to the programmer.

   On the other end, the application may also implement a checking
   mechanism that goes as far as checking that all mandatory map members
   are available.

   The matter in how far the data description must be enforced by an
   application is left to the designers and implementers of that
   application, keeping in mind related security considerations.

   In no case the intention is that a CDDL tool would be "writing code"
   for an implementation.

4.3.  For data analysis tools

   In the long run, it can be expected that more and more data will be
   stored using the CBOR data format.

   Where there is data, there is data analysis and the need to process
   such data automatically.  CDDL can be used for such automated data
   processing, allowing tools to verify data, clean it, and extract
   particular parts of interest from it.

   Since CBOR is designed with constrained devices in mind, a likely use
   of it would be small sensors.  An interesting use would thus be
   automated analysis of sensor data.

5.  Security considerations

   This document presents a content rules language for expressing CBOR
   data structures.  As such, it does not bring any security issues on
   itself, although specification of protocols that use CBOR naturally
   need security analysis when defined.

   Topics that could be considered in a security considerations section
   that uses CDDL to define CBOR structures include the following:

   o  Where could the language maybe cause confusion in a way that will
      enable security issues?

   o  Where a CDDL matcher is part of the implementation of a system,
      the security of the system ought not depend on the correctness of
      the CDDL specification or CDDL implementation without any further
      defenses in place.

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   Writers of CDDL specifications are strongly encouraged to value
   simplicity and transparency of the specification over its elegance.
   Keep it as simple as possible while still expressing the needed data

   A related observation about formal description techniques in general
   that is strongly recommended to be kept in mind by writers of CDDL
   specifications: Just because CDDL makes it easier to handle
   complexity in a specification, that does not make that complexity
   somehow less bad (except maybe on the level of the humans having to
   grasp the complex structure while reading the spec).

6.  IANA considerations

6.1.  CDDL control operator registry

   IANA is requested ...

   (TBD: define a registry of control operators.  Policy to be defined,
   definitely at least specification required.  Designated expert should
   be instructed to require a workable specification that enables
   interoperability of implementations of CDDL specifications making use
   of the control operator.  Define initial table from the present

7.  References

7.1.  Normative References

   [ISO6093]  ISO, "Information processing -- Representation of
              numerical values in character strings for information
              interchange", ISO 6093, 1985.

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC3629]  Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
              10646", STD 63, RFC 3629, DOI 10.17487/RFC3629, November
              2003, <>.

   [RFC5234]  Crocker, D., Ed. and P. Overell, "Augmented BNF for Syntax
              Specifications: ABNF", STD 68, RFC 5234,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5234, January 2008,

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   [RFC7049]  Bormann, C. and P. Hoffman, "Concise Binary Object
              Representation (CBOR)", RFC 7049, DOI 10.17487/RFC7049,
              October 2013, <>.

   [RFC7493]  Bray, T., Ed., "The I-JSON Message Format", RFC 7493,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7493, March 2015,

   [RFC8259]  Bray, T., Ed., "The JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) Data
              Interchange Format", STD 90, RFC 8259,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8259, December 2017,

              Biron, P. and A. Malhotra, "XML Schema Part 2: Datatypes
              Second Edition", World Wide Web Consortium Recommendation
              REC-xmlschema-2-20041028, October 2004,

7.2.  Informative References

              Bormann, C., "A feature freezer for the Concise Data
              Definition Language (CDDL)", draft-bormann-cbor-cddl-
              freezer-00 (work in progress), January 2018.

              Bormann, C., Carpenter, B., and B. Liu, "A Generic
              Autonomic Signaling Protocol (GRASP)", draft-ietf-anima-
              grasp-15 (work in progress), July 2017.

              Jennings, C., Shelby, Z., Arkko, J., Keranen, A., and C.
              Bormann, "Sensor Measurement Lists (SenML)", draft-ietf-
              core-senml-16 (work in progress), May 2018.

              Newton, A. and P. Cordell, "A Language for Rules
              Describing JSON Content", draft-newton-json-content-
              rules-09 (work in progress), September 2017.

   [RELAXNG]  ISO/IEC, "Information technology -- Document Schema
              Definition Language (DSDL) -- Part 2: Regular-grammar-
              based validation -- RELAX NG", ISO/IEC 19757-2, December

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   [RFC4648]  Josefsson, S., "The Base16, Base32, and Base64 Data
              Encodings", RFC 4648, DOI 10.17487/RFC4648, October 2006,

   [RFC7071]  Borenstein, N. and M. Kucherawy, "A Media Type for
              Reputation Interchange", RFC 7071, DOI 10.17487/RFC7071,
              November 2013, <>.

   [RFC7950]  Bjorklund, M., Ed., "The YANG 1.1 Data Modeling Language",
              RFC 7950, DOI 10.17487/RFC7950, August 2016,

   [RFC8007]  Murray, R. and B. Niven-Jenkins, "Content Delivery Network
              Interconnection (CDNI) Control Interface / Triggers",
              RFC 8007, DOI 10.17487/RFC8007, December 2016,

   [RFC8152]  Schaad, J., "CBOR Object Signing and Encryption (COSE)",
              RFC 8152, DOI 10.17487/RFC8152, July 2017,

7.3.  URIs


Appendix A.  (Not used.)

Appendix B.  ABNF grammar

   The following is a formal definition of the CDDL syntax in Augmented
   Backus-Naur Form (ABNF, [RFC5234]).  [_abnftodo]

   cddl = S 1*rule
   rule = typename [genericparm] S assign S type S
        / groupname [genericparm] S assign S grpent S

   typename = id
   groupname = id

   assign = "=" / "/=" / "//="

   genericparm = "<" S id S *("," S id S ) ">"
   genericarg = "<" S type1 S *("," S type1 S ) ">"

   type = type1 S *("/" S type1 S)

   type1 = type2 [S (rangeop / ctlop) S type2]

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   type2 = value
         / typename [genericarg]
         / "(" type ")"
         / "~" S groupname [genericarg]
         / "#" "6" ["." uint] "(" S type S ")" ; note no space!
         / "#" DIGIT ["." uint]                ; major/ai
         / "#"                                 ; any
         / "{" S group S "}"
         / "[" S group S "]"
         / "&" S "(" S group S ")"
         / "&" S groupname [genericarg]

   rangeop = "..." / ".."

   ctlop = "." id

   group = grpchoice S *("//" S grpchoice S)

   grpchoice = *grpent

   grpent = [occur S] [memberkey S] type optcom
          / [occur S] groupname [genericarg] optcom ; preempted by above
          / [occur S] "(" S group S ")" optcom

   memberkey = type1 S ["^" S] "=>"
             / bareword S ":"
             / value S ":"

   bareword = id

   optcom = S ["," S]

   occur = [uint] "*" [uint]
         / "+"
         / "?"

   uint = ["0x" / "0b"] "0"
        / DIGIT1 *DIGIT
        / "0x" 1*HEXDIG
        / "0b" 1*BINDIG

   value = number
         / text
         / bytes

   int = ["-"] uint

   ; This is a float if it has fraction or exponent; int otherwise

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   number = hexfloat / (int ["." fraction] ["e" exponent ])
   hexfloat = "0x" 1*HEXDIG ["." 1*HEXDIG] "p" exponent
   fraction = 1*DIGIT
   exponent = ["+"/"-"] 1*DIGIT

   text = %x22 *SCHAR %x22
   SCHAR = %x20-21 / %x23-5B / %x5D-10FFFD / SESC
   SESC = "\" %x20-10FFFD

   bytes = [bsqual] %x27 *BCHAR %x27
   BCHAR = %x20-26 / %x28-5B / %x5D-10FFFD / SESC / CRLF
   bsqual = %x68 ; "h"
          / %x62.36.34 ; "b64"

   id = EALPHA *(*("-" / ".") (EALPHA / DIGIT))
   ALPHA = %x41-5A / %x61-7A
   EALPHA = %x41-5A / %x61-7A / "@" / "_" / "$"
   DIGIT = %x30-39
   DIGIT1 = %x31-39
   HEXDIG = DIGIT / "A" / "B" / "C" / "D" / "E" / "F"
   BINDIG = %x30-31

   S = *WS
   WS = SP / NL
   SP = %x20
   PCHAR = %x20-10FFFD
   CRLF = %x0A / %x0D.0A

                           Figure 12: CDDL ABNF

Appendix C.  Matching rules

   In this appendix, we go through the ABNF syntax rules defined in
   Appendix B and briefly describe the matching semantics of each
   syntactic feature.  In this context, an instance (data item)
   "matches" a CDDL specification if it is allowed by the CDDL
   specification; this is then broken down to parts of specifications
   (type and group expressions) and parts of instances (data items).

   cddl = S 1*rule

   A CDDL specification is a sequence of one or more rules.  Each rule
   gives a name to a right hand side expression, either a CDDL type or a
   CDDL group.  Rule names can be used in the rule itself and/or other
   rules (and tools can output warnings if that is not the case).  The
   order of the rules is significant only in two cases, including the

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   following: The first rule defines the semantics of the entire
   specification; hence, its name may be descriptive only (or may be
   used in itself or other rules as with the other rule names).

   rule = typename [genericparm] S assign S type S
        / groupname [genericparm] S assign S grpent S

   typename = id
   groupname = id

   A rule defines a name for a type expression (production "type") or
   for a group expression (production "grpent"), with the intention that
   the semantics does not change when the name is replaced by its
   (parenthesized if needed) definition.

   assign = "=" / "/=" / "//="

   A plain equals sign defines the rule name as the equivalent of the
   expression to the right.  A "/=" or "//=" extends a named type or a
   group by additional choices; a number of these could be replaced by
   collecting all the right hand sides and creating a single rule with a
   type choice or a group choice built from the right hand sides in the
   order of the rules given.  (It is not an error to extend a rule name
   that has not yet been defined; this makes the right hand side the
   first entry in the choice being created.)  The creation of the type
   choices and group choices from the right hand sides of rules is the
   other case where rule order can be significant.

   genericparm = "<" S id S *("," S id S ) ">"
   genericarg = "<" S type1 S *("," S type1 S ) ">"

   Rule names can have generic parameters, which cause temporary
   assignments within the right hand sides to the parameter names from
   the arguments given when citing the rule name.

   type = type1 S *("/" S type1 S)

   A type can be given as a choice between one or more types.  The
   choice matches a data item if the data item matches any one of the
   types given in the choice.  The choice uses Parse Expression Grammar
   (PEG) semantics: The first choice that matches wins.  (As a result,
   the order of rules that contribute to a single rule name can very
   well matter.)

   type1 = type2 [S (rangeop / ctlop) S type2]

   Two types can be combined with a range operator (which see below) or
   a control operator (see Section 3.8).

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   type2 = value

   A type can be just a single value (such as 1 or "icecream" or
   h'0815'), which matches only a data item with that specific value (no
   conversions defined),

         / typename [genericarg]

   or be defined by a rule giving a meaning to a name (possibly after
   supplying generic args as required by the generic parameters),

         / "(" type ")"

   or be defined in a parenthesized type expression (parentheses may be
   necessary to override some operator precendence), or

         / "~" S groupname [genericarg]

   an "unwrapped" group (see Section 3.7), which matches the group
   inside a type defined as a map or an array by wrapping the group, or

         / "#" "6" ["." uint] "(" S type S ")" ; note no space!

   a tagged data item, tagged with the "uint" given and containing the
   type given as the tagged value, or

         / "#" DIGIT ["." uint]                ; major/ai

   a data item of a major type (given by the DIGIT), optionally
   constrained to the additional information given by the uint, or

         / "#"                                 ; any

   any data item, or

         / "{" S group S "}"

   a map expression, which matches a valid CBOR map the key/value pairs
   of which can be ordered in such a way that the resulting sequence
   matches the group expression, or

         / "[" S group S "]"

   an array expression, which matches a CBOR array the elements of
   which, when taken as values and complemented by a wildcard (matches
   anything) key each, match the group, or

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         / "&" S "(" S group S ")"
         / "&" S groupname [genericarg]

   an enumeration expression, which matches any a value that is within
   the set of values that the values of the group given can take.

   rangeop = "..." / ".."

   A range operator can be used to join two type expressions that stand
   for either two integer values or two floating point values; it
   matches any value that is between the two values, where the first
   value is always included in the matching set and the second value is
   included for ".." and excluded for "...".

   ctlop = "." id

   A control operator ties a _target_ type to a _controller_ type as
   defined in Section 3.8.  Note that control operators are an extension
   point for CDDL; additional documents may want to define additional
   control operators.

   group = grpchoice S *("//" S grpchoice S)

   A group matches any sequence of key/value pairs that matches any of
   the choices given (again using Parse Expression Grammar semantics).

   grpchoice = *grpent

   Each of the component groups is given as a sequence of group entries.
   For a match, the sequence of key/value pairs given needs to match the
   sequence of group entries in the sequence given.

   grpent = [occur S] [memberkey S] type optcom

   A group entry can be given by a value type, which needs to be matched
   by the value part of a single element, and optionally a memberkey
   type, which needs to be matched by the key part of the element, if
   the memberkey is given.  If the memberkey is not given, the entry can
   only be used for matching arrays, not for maps.  (See below how that
   is modified by the occurrence indicator.)

          / [occur S] groupname [genericarg] optcom ; preempted by above

   A group entry can be built from a named group, or

          / [occur S] "(" S group S ")" optcom

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   from a parenthesized group, again with a possible occurrence

   memberkey = type1 S ["^" S] "=>"
             / bareword S ":"
             / value S ":"

   Key types can be given by a type expression, a bareword (which stands
   for a type that just contains a string value created from this
   bareword), or a value (which stands for a type that just contains
   this value).  A key value matches its key type if the key value is a
   member of the key type, unless a cut preceding it in the group
   applies (see Section 3.5.3 how map matching is infuenced by the
   presence of the cuts denoted by "^" or ":" in previous entries).

   bareword = id

   A bareword is an alternative way to write a type with a single text
   string value; it can only be used in the syntactic context given

   optcom = S ["," S]

   (Optional commas do not influence the matching.)

   occur = [uint] "*" [uint]
         / "+"
         / "?"

   An occurrence indicator modifies the group given to its right by
   requiring the group to match the sequence to be matched exactly for a
   certain number of times (see Section 3.2) in sequence, i.e. it acts
   as a (possibly infinite) group choice that contains choices with the
   group repeated each of the occurrences times.

   The rest of the ABNF describes syntax for value notation that should
   be familiar from programming languages, with the possible exception
   of h'..' and b64'..' for byte strings, as well as syntactic elements
   such as comments and line ends.

Appendix D.  (Not used.)

Appendix E.  Standard Prelude

   The following prelude is automatically added to each CDDL file
   [tdate].  (Note that technically, it is a postlude, as it does not
   disturb the selection of the first rule as the root of the

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                  any = #

                  uint = #0
                  nint = #1
                  int = uint / nint

                  bstr = #2
                  bytes = bstr
                  tstr = #3
                  text = tstr

                  tdate = #6.0(tstr)
                  time = #6.1(number)
                  number = int / float
                  biguint = #6.2(bstr)
                  bignint = #6.3(bstr)
                  bigint = biguint / bignint
                  integer = int / bigint
                  unsigned = uint / biguint
                  decfrac = #6.4([e10: int, m: integer])
                  bigfloat = #6.5([e2: int, m: integer])
                  eb64url = #6.21(any)
                  eb64legacy = #6.22(any)
                  eb16 = #6.23(any)
                  encoded-cbor = #6.24(bstr)
                  uri = #6.32(tstr)
                  b64url = #6.33(tstr)
                  b64legacy = #6.34(tstr)
                  regexp = #6.35(tstr)
                  mime-message = #6.36(tstr)
                  cbor-any = #6.55799(any)

                  float16 = #7.25
                  float32 = #7.26
                  float64 = #7.27
                  float16-32 = float16 / float32
                  float32-64 = float32 / float64
                  float = float16-32 / float64

                  false = #7.20
                  true = #7.21
                  bool = false / true
                  nil = #7.22
                  null = nil
                  undefined = #7.23

                          Figure 13: CDDL Prelude

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   Note that the prelude is deemed to be fixed.  This means, for
   instance, that additional tags beyond [RFC7049], as registered, need
   to be defined in each CDDL file that is using them.

   A common stumbling point is that the prelude does not define a type
   "string".  CBOR has byte strings ("bytes" in the prelude) and text
   strings ("text"), so a type that is simply called "string" would be

E.1.  Use with JSON

   The JSON generic data model (implicit in [RFC8259]) is a subset of
   the generic data model of CBOR.  So one can use CDDL with JSON by
   limiting oneself to what can be represented in JSON.  Roughly
   speaking, this means leaving out byte strings, tags, and simple
   values other than "false", "true", and "null", leading to the
   following limited prelude:

                      any = #

                      uint = #0
                      nint = #1
                      int = uint / nint

                      tstr = #3
                      text = tstr

                      number = int / float

                      float16 = #7.25
                      float32 = #7.26
                      float64 = #7.27
                      float16-32 = float16 / float32
                      float32-64 = float32 / float64
                      float = float16-32 / float64

                      false = #7.20
                      true = #7.21
                      bool = false / true
                      nil = #7.22
                      null = nil

             Figure 14: JSON compatible subset of CDDL Prelude

   (The major types given here do not have a direct meaning in JSON, but
   they can be interpreted as CBOR major types translated through
   Section 4 of [RFC7049].)

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   There are a few fine points in using CDDL with JSON.  First, JSON
   does not distinguish between integers and floating point numbers;
   there is only one kind of number (which may happen to be integral).
   In this context, specifying a type as "uint", "nint" or "int" then
   becomes a predicate that the number be integral.  As an example, this
   means that the following JSON numbers are all matching "uint":

   10 10.0 1e1 1.0e1 100e-1

   (The fact that these are all integers may be surprising to users
   accustomed to the long tradition in programming languages of using
   decimal points or exponents in a number to indicate a floating point

   CDDL distinguishes the various CBOR number types, but there is only
   one number type in JSON.  The effect of specifying a floating point
   precision (float16/float32/float64) is only to restrict the set of
   permissible values to those expressible with binary16/binary32/
   binary64; this is unlikely to be very useful when using CDDL for
   specifying JSON data structures.

   Fundamentally, the number system of JSON itself is based on decimal
   numbers and decimal fractions and does not have limits to its
   precision or range.  In practice, JSON numbers are often parsed into
   a number type that is called float64 here, creating a number of
   limitations to the generic data model [RFC7493].  In particular, this
   means that integers can only be expressed with interoperable
   exactness when they lie in the range [-(2**53)+1, (2**53)-1] -- a
   smaller range than that covered by CDDL "int".

   JSON applications that want to stay compatible with I-JSON therefore
   may want to define integer types with more limited ranges, such as in
   Figure 15.  Note that the types given here are not part of the
   prelude; they need to be copied into the CDDL specification if

               ij-uint = 0..9007199254740991
               ij-nint = -9007199254740991..-1
               ij-int = -9007199254740991..9007199254740991

          Figure 15: I-JSON types for CDDL (not part of prelude)

   JSON applications that do not need to stay compatible with I-JSON and
   that actually may need to go beyond the 64-bit unsigned and negative
   integers supported by "int" (= "uint"/"nint") may want to use the
   following additional types from the standard prelude, which are
   expressed in terms of tags but can straightforwardly be mapped into
   JSON (but not I-JSON) numbers:

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   biguint = #6.2(bstr)
   bignint = #6.3(bstr)
   bigint = biguint / bignint
   integer = int / bigint
   unsigned = uint / biguint

   CDDL at this point does not have a way to express the unlimited
   floating point precision that is theoretically possible with JSON; at
   the time of writing, this is rarely used in protocols in practice.

   Note that a data model described in CDDL is always restricted by what
   can be expressed in the serialization; e.g., floating point values
   such as NaN (not a number) and the infinities cannot be represented
   in JSON even if they are allowed in the CDDL generic data model.

Appendix F.  The CDDL tool

   A rough CDDL tool is available.  For CDDL specifications, it can
   check the syntax, generate one or more instances (expressed in CBOR
   diagnostic notation or in pretty-printed JSON), and validate an
   existing instance against the specification:

                   cddl spec.cddl generate [n]
                   cddl spec.cddl json-generate [n]
                   cddl spec.cddl validate instance.cbor
                   cddl spec.cddl validate instance.json

                        Figure 16: CDDL tool usage

   Install on a system with a modern Ruby via:

                             gem install cddl

                     Figure 17: CDDL tool installation

   The accompanying CBOR diagnostic tools (which are automatically
   installed by the above) are described in
   cbor-diag [1]; they can be used to convert between binary CBOR, a
   pretty-printed form of that, CBOR diagnostic notation, JSON, and

Appendix G.  Extended Diagnostic Notation

   Section 6 of [RFC7049] defines a "diagnostic notation" in order to be
   able to converse about CBOR data items without having to resort to
   binary data.  Diagnostic notation is based on JSON, with extensions
   for representing CBOR constructs such as binary data and tags.

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   (Standardizing this together with the actual interchange format does
   not serve to create another interchange format, but enables the use
   of a shared diagnostic notation in tools for and documents about

   This section discusses a few extensions to the diagnostic notation
   that have turned out to be useful since RFC 7049 was written.  We
   refer to the result as extended diagnostic notation (EDN).

G.1.  White space in byte string notation

   Examples often benefit from some white space (spaces, line breaks) in
   byte strings.  In extended diagnostic notation, white space is
   ignored in prefixed byte strings; for instance, the following are

     h'48 65 6c 6c 6f 20 77 6f 72 6c 64'
     h'4 86 56c 6c6f
       20776 f726c64'

G.2.  Text in byte string notation

   Diagnostic notation notates Byte strings in one of the [RFC4648] base
   encodings,, enclosed in single quotes, prefixed by >h< for base16,
   >b32< for base32, >h32< for base32hex, >b64< for base64 or base64url.
   Quite often, byte strings carry bytes that are meaningfully
   interpreted as UTF-8 text.  Extended Diagnostic Notation allows the
   use of single quotes without a prefix to express byte strings with
   UTF-8 text; for instance, the following are equivalent:

   'hello world'

   The escaping rules of JSON strings are applied equivalently for text-
   based byte strings, e.g., \ stands for a single backslash and '
   stands for a single quote.  White space is included literally, i.e.,
   the previous section does not apply to text-based byte strings.

G.3.  Embedded CBOR and CBOR sequences in byte strings

   Where a byte string is to carry an embedded CBOR-encoded item, or
   more generally a sequence of zero or more such items, the diagnostic
   notation for these zero or more CBOR data items, separated by
   commata, can be enclosed in << and >> to notate the byte string
   resulting from encoding the data items and concatenating the result.
   For instance, each pair of columns in the following are equivalent:

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   <<1>>              h'01'
   <<1, 2>>           h'0102'
   <<"foo", null>>    h'63666F6FF6'
   <<>>               h''

G.4.  Concatenated Strings

   While the ability to include white space enables line-breaking of
   encoded byte strings, a mechanism is needed to be able to include
   text strings as well as byte strings in direct UTF-8 representation
   into line-based documents (such as RFCs and source code).

   We extend the diagnostic notation by allowing multiple text strings
   or multiple byte strings to be notated separated by white space,
   these are then concatenated into a single text or byte string,
   respectively.  Text strings and byte strings do not mix within such a
   concatenation, except that byte string notation can be used inside a
   sequence of concatenated text string notation to encode characters
   that may be better represented in an encoded way.  The following four
   values are equivalent:

   "Hello world"
   "Hello " "world"
   "Hello" h'20' "world"
   "" h'48656c6c6f20776f726c64' ""

   Similarly, the following byte string values are equivalent

   'Hello world'
   'Hello ' 'world'
   'Hello ' h'776f726c64'
   'Hello' h'20' 'world'
   '' h'48656c6c6f20776f726c64' '' b64''
   h'4 86 56c 6c6f' h' 20776 f726c64'

   (Note that the approach of separating by whitespace, while familiar
   from the C language, requires some attention - a single comma makes a
   big difference here.)

G.5.  Hexadecimal, octal, and binary numbers

   In addition to JSON's decimal numbers, EDN provides hexadecimal,
   octal and binary numbers in the usual C-language notation (octal with
   0o prefix present only).

   The following are equivalent:

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   As are:


G.6.  Comments

   Longer pieces of diagnostic notation may benefit from comments.  JSON
   famously does not provide for comments, and basic RFC 7049 diagnostic
   notation inherits this property.

   In extended diagnostic notation, comments can be included, delimited
   by slashes ("/").  Any text within and including a pair of slashes is
   considered a comment.

   Comments are considered white space.  Hence, they are allowed in
   prefixed byte strings; for instance, the following are equivalent:

   h'68 65 6c /doubled l!/ 6c 6f /hello/
     20 /space/
     77 6f 72 6c 64' /world/

   This can be used to annotate a CBOR structure as in:

   /grasp-message/ [/M_DISCOVERY/ 1, /session-id/ 10584416,
                    /objective/ [/objective-name/ "opsonize",
                                 /D, N, S/ 7, /loop-count/ 105]]

   (There are currently no end-of-line comments.  If we want to add
   them, "//" sounds like a reasonable delimiter given that we already
   use slashes for comments, but we also could go e.g. for "#".)

Appendix H.  Examples

   This section contains various examples of structures defined using

   The theme for the first example is taken from [RFC7071], which
   defines certain JSON structures in English.  For a similar example,
   it may also be of interest to examine Appendix A of [RFC8007], which

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   contains a CDDL definition for a JSON structure defined in the main
   body of the RFC.

   The second subsection in this appendix translates examples from
   [I-D.newton-json-content-rules] into CDDL.

   These examples all happen to describe data that is interchanged in
   JSON.  Examples for CDDL definitions of data that is interchanged in
   CBOR can be found in [RFC8152], [I-D.ietf-anima-grasp], or

H.1.  RFC 7071

   [RFC7071] defines the Reputon structure for JSON using somewhat
   formalized English text.  Here is a (somewhat verbose) equivalent
   definition using the same terms, but notated in CDDL:

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                 reputation-object = {

                 reputation-context = (
                   application: text

                 reputon-list = (
                   reputons: reputon-array

                 reputon-array = [* reputon]

                 reputon = {
                   ? conf-value,
                   ? normal-value,
                   ? sample-value,
                   ? gen-value,
                   ? expire-value,
                   * ext-value,

                 rater-value = ( rater: text )
                 assertion-value = ( assertion: text )
                 rated-value = ( rated: text )
                 rating-value = ( rating: float16 )
                 conf-value = ( confidence: float16 )
                 normal-value = ( normal-rating: float16 )
                 sample-value = ( sample-size: uint )
                 gen-value = ( generated: uint )
                 expire-value = ( expires: uint )
                 ext-value = ( text => any )

   An equivalent, more compact form of this example would be:

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                        reputation-object = {
                          application: text
                          reputons: [* reputon]

                        reputon = {
                          rater: text
                          assertion: text
                          rated: text
                          rating: float16
                          ? confidence: float16
                          ? normal-rating: float16
                          ? sample-size: uint
                          ? generated: uint
                          ? expires: uint
                          * text => any

   Note how this rather clearly delineates the structure somewhat
   shrouded by so many words in section 6.2.2. of [RFC7071].  Also, this
   definition makes it clear that several ext-values are allowed (by
   definition with different member names); RFC 7071 could be read to
   forbid the repetition of ext-value ("A specific reputon-element MUST
   NOT appear more than once" is ambiguous.)

   The CDDL tool (which hasn't quite been trained for polite
   conversation) says:

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                  "application": "tridentiferous",
                  "reputons": [
                      "rater": "loamily",
                      "assertion": "Dasyprocta",
                      "rated": "uncommensurableness",
                      "rating": 0.05055809746548934,
                      "confidence": 0.7484706448605812,
                      "normal-rating": 0.8677887734049299,
                      "sample-size": 4059,
                      "expires": 3969,
                      "bearer": "nitty",
                      "faucal": "postulnar",
                      "naturalism": "sarcotic"
                      "rater": "precreed",
                      "assertion": "xanthosis",
                      "rated": "balsamy",
                      "rating": 0.36091333590593955,
                      "confidence": 0.3700759808403371,
                      "sample-size": 3904
                      "rater": "urinosexual",
                      "assertion": "malacostracous",
                      "rated": "arenariae",
                      "rating": 0.9210673488013762,
                      "normal-rating": 0.4778762617112776,
                      "sample-size": 4428,
                      "generated": 3294,
                      "backfurrow": "enterable",
                      "fruitgrower": "flannelflower"
                      "rater": "pedologistically",
                      "assertion": "unmetaphysical",
                      "rated": "elocutionist",
                      "rating": 0.42073613384304287,
                      "misimagine": "retinaculum",
                      "snobbish": "contradict",
                      "Bosporanic": "periostotomy",
                      "dayworker": "intragyral"

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H.1.1.  Examples from JSON Content Rules

   Although JSON Content Rules [I-D.newton-json-content-rules] seems to
   address a more general problem than CDDL, it is still a worthwhile
   resource to explore for examples (beyond all the inspiration the
   format itself has had for CDDL).

   Figure 2 of the JCR I-D looks very similar, if slightly less noisy,
   in CDDL:

                            root = [2*2 {
                              precision: text,
                              Latitude: float,
                              Longitude: float,
                              Address: text,
                              City: text,
                              State: text,
                              Zip: text,
                              Country: text

                     Figure 18: JCR, Figure 2, in CDDL

   Apart from the lack of a need to quote the member names, text strings
   are called "text" or "tstr" in CDDL ("string" would be ambiguous as
   CBOR also provides byte strings).

   The CDDL tool creates the below example instance for this:

    [{"precision": "pyrosphere", "Latitude": 0.5399712314350172,
      "Longitude": 0.5157523963028087, "Address": "resow",
      "City": "problemwise", "State": "martyrlike", "Zip": "preprove",
      "Country": "Pace"},
     {"precision": "unrigging", "Latitude": 0.10422704368372193,
      "Longitude": 0.6279808663725834, "Address": "picturedom",
      "City": "decipherability", "State": "autometry", "Zip": "pout",
      "Country": "wimple"}]

   Figure 4 of the JCR I-D in CDDL:

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                             root = { image }

                             image = (
                               Image: {
                                 Title: text,
                                 IDs: [* int]

                             size = (
                               Width: 0..1280
                               Height: 0..1024

                             thumbnail = (
                               Thumbnail: {
                                 Url: ~uri

   This shows how the group concept can be used to keep related elements
   (here: width, height) together, and to emulate the JCR style of
   specification.  (It also shows referencing a type by unwrapping a tag
   from the prelude, "uri" - this could be done differently.)  The more
   compact form of Figure 5 of the JCR I-D could be emulated like this:

                    root = {
                      Image: {
                        size, Title: text,
                        Thumbnail: { size, Url: ~uri },
                        IDs: [* int]

                    size = (
                      Width: 0..1280,
                      Height: 0..1024,

   The CDDL tool creates the below example instance for this:

    {"Image": {"Width": 566, "Height": 516, "Title": "leisterer",
      "Thumbnail": {"Width": 1111, "Height": 176, "Url": 32("scrog")},
      "IDs": []}}

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   CDDL was originally conceived by Bert Greevenbosch, who also wrote
   the original five versions of this document.

   Inspiration was taken from the C and Pascal languages, MPEG's
   conventions for describing structures in the ISO base media file
   format, Relax-NG and its compact syntax [RELAXNG], and in particular
   from Andrew Lee Newton's "JSON Content Rules"

   Useful feedback came from members of the IETF CBOR WG, in particular
   Joe Hildebrand, Sean Leonard and Jim Schaad.  Also, Francesca
   Palombini and Joe volunteered to chair this WG, providing the
   framework for generating and processing this feedback.

   The CDDL tool was written by Carsten Bormann, building on previous
   work by Troy Heninger and Tom Lord.

Editorial Comments

[_format] So far, the ability to restrict format choices have not been
          needed beyond the floating point formats.  Those can be
          applied to ranges using the new .and control now.  It is not
          clear we want to add more format control before we have a use

[_range] TO DO: define this precisely.  This clearly includes integers
         and floats.  Strings - as in "a".."z" - could be added if
         desired, but this would require adopting a definition of string
         ordering and possibly a successor function so "a".."z" does not
         include "bb".

[_strings] TO DO: This still needs to be fully realized in the ABNF and
           in the CDDL tool.

[_bitsendian] How useful would it be to have another variant that counts
              bits like in RFC box notation?  (Or at least per-byte?
              32-bit words don't always perfectly mesh with byte

[unflex] A comment has been that this is counter-intuitive.  One
         solution would be to simply disallow unparenthesized usage of
         occurrence indicators in front of type choices unless a member
         key is also present like in group2 above.

[_abnftodo] Potential improvements: the prefixed byte strings are more
            liberally specified than they actually are.

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[tdate] The prelude as included here does not yet have a .regexp control
        on tdate, but we probably do want to have one.

Authors' Addresses

   Henk Birkholz
   Fraunhofer SIT
   Rheinstrasse 75
   Darmstadt  64295


   Christoph Vigano
   Universitaet Bremen


   Carsten Bormann
   Universitaet Bremen TZI
   Bibliothekstr. 1
   Bremen  D-28359

   Phone: +49-421-218-63921

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