Enumerations are common features in modeling frameworks. These can be
thought of as a “drop-down” of permissible values for a
field/slot. For example, a “vital status” slot may have an enumeration
with permissible values
LinkML supports enumerations, and goes beyond what is possible in frameworks like JSON-Schema
Permissible Values can be mapped to ontology terms, enhancing interoperability and FAIRness
Enumerations can be static or dynamic, where dynamic enums are defined by a set of constraints (e.g. a branch of an ontology)
The core enumeration model is the same as for familiar systems, where there is a set of allowed string values:
enums: FamilialRelationshipType: permissible_values: SIBLING_OF: PARENT_OF: CHILD_OF:
You can also make your enums into a richer controlled vocabulary, with definitions built in:
enums: FamilialRelationshipType: permissible_values: SIBLING OF: description: A family relationship where the two members have a parent on common PARENT OF: description: A family relationship between offspring and their parent CHILD OF: description: inverse of the PARENT_OF relationship
Mapping Permissible Values to Ontologies#
As an example, we will map the Permissible Values above to terms from the GA4GH pedigree standard kinship ontology.
We will first add a base prefix declaration (KIN concepts have PURLs of the form http://purl.org/ga4gh/kin.owl#KIN_007
prefixes: kin: http://purl.org/ga4gh/kin.owl# ...
Then further down we can annotate our enums using meaning slots:
enums: FamilialRelationshipType: permissible_values: SIBLING OF: description: A family relationship where the two members have a parent on common meaning: kin:KIN_007 PARENT OF: description: A family relationship between offspring and their parent meaning: kin:KIN_003 CHILD OF: description: inverse of the PARENT_OF relationship meaning: kin:KIN_002
Working with Enums in Python#
Enumerations are mapped directly to Python enums. See
Starting with LinkML 1.3, enums do not have to be a static hardcoded list; instead they can be dynamic, populated by a query.
This allows the enum to be synced with some upstream source, and avoids hardcoding very long lists where there are a lot of possibilities.
The following example defines an enumeration that selects any subtype of “neuron” from the OBO cell type ontology:
enums: NeuronTypeEnum: reachable_from: source_ontology: obo:cl source_nodes: - CL:0000540 ## neuron include_self: false relationship_types: - rdfs:subClassOf
Arbitrarily nested boolean expressions can be used, combined with the minus operator to subtract from sets:
LoincExample: enum_uri: http://hl7.org/fhir/ValueSet/example-intensional see_also: - https://build.fhir.org/valueset-example-intensional.json.html include: - reachable_from: source_ontology: bioregistry:loinc source_nodes: - LOINC:LP43571-6 is_direct: true minus: concepts: - LOINC:5932-9
Enums can extend other enums using inherits:
enums: Disease: reachable_from: source_ontology: bioregistry:mondo source_nodes: - MONDO:0000001 ## disease or disorder is_direct: false relationship_types: - rdfs:subClassOf minus: permissible_values: root_node: meaning: MONDO:0000001 ## disease or disorder HumanDisease: description: Extends the Disease value set, including NCIT neoplasms, excluding non-human diseases inherits: - Disease include: - reachable_from: source_ontology: bioregistry:ncit source_nodes: - NCIT:C3262 minus: - reachable_from: source_ontology: bioregistry:mondo source_nodes: - MONDO:0005583 ## non-human animal disease relationship_types: - rdfs:subClassOf - permissible_values: NOT_THIS_ONE: meaning: MONDO:9999 description: Example of excluding a single node
Tooling to support dynamic enums#
Different tool chains may choose to implement dynamic enums differently.
For example, if you have a stack that uses JSON-Schema for validation, then tools may choose to materialize a dynamic query into a static list of terms at the time of schema compilation.
Other tools may choose to perform the query at runtime. For example, a data entry tool may choose to use an advanced autocomplete API to restrict autocomplete to defined values.
At this time, tooling support for dynamic enums is maturing, but you can still go ahead and use them in your schemas. The default behavior will be too permissive – however, you still gain additional clarity in your schema documentation.