SGML/XML 98 Paris, another take

Rick Jelliffe ricko at
Fri May 29 19:54:28 BST 1998

> From: Jon Bosak

> One thing I may not have been sufficiently clear about in my report
> was that the nervousness I personally feel about the namespace draft
> isn't about its ability to solve the problems it was designed for
> (there is universal agreement among the groups for which it was
> produced that it does) but about the complexities it raises for
> traditional DTD validation.
> I think that the WG and, in particular, the three editors of the
> Namespace draft -- Tim Bray, Dave Hollander, and Andrew Layman --
> deserve a huge round of applause for producing a pivotal specification
> that will enable commerce and collaborative interaction over the web
> on a scale that will make what's happened so far look like a warmup
> exercise.

I think Jon is completely correct here. In a networked world the traditional
SGML distinction between local "names" and external "identifiers" is much
less powerful than for non-networked document distribution. The XML
namespaces draft is actually quite conservative in that it does not do away
with the distinction between names and identifiers. And it is conservative
in that it cleanly uses PIs (hoorray!) and so does not complicate any future
element/attribute/entity solutions people come up with as the "namespace"
issue is thought about more deeply in the WWW context. And it is
conservative in that it fits in with the standard markup declaration.
(Compare this with RDF's current disregard!!!)

The editors deserve commendation for this conservatism: I know that several
different approaches were given a good amount of consideration during the WG
& SIG discussions. When Tim or Andrew air their reservations and ideas about
the standard markup declarations, I am always aware that they have been
scrupulous in their appropriate usage of XML.

The other thing about the namespace draft that makes it good is that
(because PIs are used), it does not interfere with any other system you
might put in place. If you have a better system, you can make your
identifiers follow your conventions, as long as your convention respects the
colon-prefixing. So I do not see that it really could be accused of
restricting development, either.  So I have no nervousness about the draft:
it opens an exiting new chapter for standard generalized markup languages.

Rick Jelliffe

Author "The XML & SGML Cookbook"
Prentice Hall, ISBN 0-13-614223-0

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