Inheritance in XML

Peter Murray-Rust peter at
Thu Apr 23 21:48:45 BST 1998

At 21:28 22/04/98 -0700, Jon Bosak wrote:
[...valuable contribution snipped...]
>The answer is, Yes, there are other people who think that it would
>make sense to design an XML schema mechanism to handle issues like
>what has been called "inheritance" in this discussion (not to mention
>good old-fashioned data typing).  The workings of a W3C committee can
>be made public only at the discretion of the chair of the committee,
>so I will put on my official XML WG Chairman hat and reveal unto ye
>that the XML WG has officially requested that the job of defining a
>schema language for XML documents be added to its charter.  If
>approved by the W3C Director, this work would certainly involve a
>consideration of most of the issues raised in this discussion and
>would include a close look not only at XML Data but also at other
>proposed solutions to the same problem.

I am extremely pleased to see this announcement and hope that XML-DEV can
act supportively. I am 100% in favour of 'no semantics' in XML. The only
concern I have about that philosophy is that the community might have many
different unconnected approaches to developing semantics which would
significantly decrease interoperability.

Jon's announcement should help developers plan their timescales for
creating their own semantics. There is little to be gained by doing it too
early if the rest of the community is going to have a well-crafted,
publicly developed approach in a few months. Like many others, I need some
of the components of XML-data and so whatever I do at present I have
designed to be 'throw-away' when the W3C deliberations start coalescing.

It's worth remembering that this is probably the first global public
exercise in developing semantics other than in specialised domains. There
is a great deal to  do - and the 'inheritance' discussion shows that it is
a level of complexity tougher than syntax. Our discussions (and success)
with SAX shows that it often takes repeated starts to get workable
approaches. I am confident that the public discussion over the last year
will prove very useful to those involved in coming up with formal suggestions.

Peter Murray-Rust, Director Virtual School of Molecular Sciences, domestic
net connection
VSMS, Virtual Hyperglossary

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