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Feature.java

/*
 * Licensed to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under one
 * or more contributor license agreements.  See the NOTICE file
 * distributed with this work for additional information
 * regarding copyright ownership.  The ASF licenses this file
 * to you under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the
 * "License"); you may not use this file except in compliance
 * with the License.  You may obtain a copy of the License at
 * 
 *   http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0
 * 
 * Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing,
 * software distributed under the License is distributed on an
 * "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY
 * KIND, either express or implied.  See the License for the
 * specific language governing permissions and limitations
 * under the License.
 */

package org.apache.uima.cas;

/**
 * The interface that describes features in the type system.
 * 
 * <p>
 * <a name="names">Feature short or base names</a> are <a href="./Type.html#identifiers"> type
 * system identifiers</a>. The (fully) qualified name of a feature is the <a
 * href="./Type.html#names">name</a> of the type it is defined on, followed by a colon, followed by
 * the its short name. For example, the qualified name of the Annotation begin feature is
 * <code>uima.tcas.Annotation:begin</code>.
 * 
 * 
 */
00034 public interface Feature extends Comparable<Feature> {

  /**
   * Get the domain type for this feature.
   * 
   * @return The domain type. This can not be <code>null</code>.
   */
  Type getDomain();

  /**
   * Get the range type for this feature.
   * 
   * @return The range type. This can not be <code>null</code>.
   */
  Type getRange();

  /**
   * Get the <a href="#names">qualified name</a> for this feature.
   * 
   * @return The name.
   */
  String getName();

  /**
   * Get the <a href="#names">unqualified, short name</a> of this feature.
   * 
   * @return The short name.
   */
  String getShortName();

  /**
   * Checks if there can be multiple references to values of this feature.  This is only 
   * meaningful for array-valued or list-values features.
   * <p>
   * If this is false it indicates that this feature has exclusive ownership of the
   * array or list, so changes to the array or list are localized. If this is true it indicates
   * that the array or list may be shared, so changes to it may affect other objects in the CAS. 
   *  
   * @return <code>true</code> iff the value type of this feature is an array or list and has been
   *    declared to allow multiple references.
   */
  boolean isMultipleReferencesAllowed();

}

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