Namespaces and XML validation

Marcus Carr mrc at
Tue Aug 11 05:07:31 BST 1998

Peter Murray-Rust wrote:

> I think we are in the experimental phase of XML where we are asking the
> wider world whether validation is valuable. To many established SGML people
> the lack of validation is near heresy.

Not in all cases - a document written from a database is an obvious example of a
one that you could accept with a fair degree of confidence, but of course this is
due to the fact that a) some validation has been done by another application, and
b) it is known that there are rigid and well defined boundaries, as might be the
case with your data. I haven't looked at your DTD for a long time, but I assume
that your structures are more regular than something like legislation, where
you're forced to follow the convention of the drafters in order to avoid an
unintentional change to the law (usually not a good thing).

> As I have often
> (probably boringly) said, I think my community is far more interested in
> semantic than syntactic validity.

I could see that being the case; within your community there is an implied
understanding of the underlying structure - your DTD maps structures that exist
in fact and have been learned by understanding the rules governing physics. With
other areas of information though, I think this can be less so, so the
requirement for and benefit obtained by validation is much more apparent. I feel
it's more valid to frame questions such as "is validation valuable?" in a
worst-case scenario - if you spend any time with legislation, you quickly realise
that although there generally could be underlying common structures, the drafters
often have not respected this fact.


Marcus Carr                  email:  mrc at
Allette Systems (Australia)  email:  info at
Level 10, 91 York Street     www:
Sydney 2000 NSW Australia    phone:  +61 2 9262 4777
                             fax:    +61 2 9262 4774

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