JATS and the NLM DTDs

The Journal Article Tag Suite (JATS) project at NCBI is a continuation of the work done here to create and support the "Archiving and Interchange Tag Suite" or the "NLM DTDs". The current standard is NISO JATS version 1.2 and is fully backward compatible with NISO JATS version 1.1.

The most recent version of the non-normative schemas, version 1.3d1, reflects the changes that have been made to v1.2 based on public comments. This version is a draft and has not been voted on as an official revision to the NISO Standard. It was released on October 10, 2019.

History at NLM

The NLM DTD/JATS project originated at NIH in 2002. It was based on the earlier PMC 1.0 DTD, and the E-Journal Archive DTD Feasibility Study, a 2001 report prepared by Inera Inc. under a Mellon Foundation grant for the Harvard University Libraries. These materials were used by a joint team from NLM, Mulberry Technologies, and Inera to build the first version of the "NLM DTD"

In 2003, NCBI released the NLM Archiving and Interchange Tag Suite and two article Document Type Definitions (DTDs) for tagging journal articles: the Archiving and Interchange DTD and the Journal Publishing DTD. The Tag Suite was updated regularly with the advice of the NLM Archiving and Interchange Tag Suite Working Group, and in 2005 we added the third article model: the Article Authoring DTD to support article crreation in XML. At this point, the project was in version 2.1.

The Tag Suite and the DTDs were being used by journal publishers and archives around the world, and we received a number of comments from users and potential users about formalizing the article models as a standard. When we discussed this subject with the NLM Working Group, we realized that there were a number of changes we had been wanting to make to the DTDs that we had been holding because they would mean a not backward-compatible version. It was decided that all of these housecleaning upgrades should be made before we approached the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) about formalizing the standard.

In November 2008 we released version 3.0, which was a major revision to the Tag Suite and the three article models.

The NISO Story

The project was started at NISO as "Standardized Markup for Journal Articles". The NLM Working Group was disbanded, and a NISO Working Group was established (fortunately with many of the same people). The original plan was to submit version 3.0 as a draft standard to NISO, but in the months it took to get things started, we accumulated a number of comments on version 3.0. The Working Group decided to address these comments and created an update to the Tag Suite and the three article models. If we had been continuing as an NLM project, this update would have been released as version 3.1.

But, it was decided that it would be best if the Journal Article Tag Suite under NISO start with a new numbering scheme.

Current Status

On February 8, 2019, NISO approved the updated version 1.2 of the Journal Article Tag Suite as a standard: NISO Z39.96-2019. The elements, attributes, and models described in the Standard are those defined by the Working Group in response to public comments made on previous versions.

All of the schemas (DTD, RELAX NG, and W3C Schema) and usage documentation are considered to be non-normative supporting documents to the standard. These are being offered here on the NLM JATS site just as the schemas and documentation have been available on the dtd.nlm.nih.gov site since 2003.

What's Coming Next?

Again, the schemas and supporting documents will be avalable here on the NLM JATS site, and the standard will be available from NISO.

The standard will be under Continuous Maintenance with scheduled updates.