namespaces discussion

Peter Jones peterj at
Fri Sep 11 10:17:28 BST 1998

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Murray Altheim [SMTP:altheim at mehitabel.eng.Sun.COM]
> Sent:	Thursday, September 10, 1998 7:00 PM
> To:	Peter Jones; xml-dev at
> Subject:	Re: namespaces discussion
> Peter Jones <peterj at> writes:
> [...]
> > What do you mean by compounding DTDs? I don't know whether any of my
> > postings to the list have been getting through, ...but why can't the
> > notion of a DTD be an utterly nebulous concept in the abstract,
> elements
> > themselves having a namespace URIs which addresses a DTD entity for
> that
> > particular element. Different elements validated against different
> > declarations lying in dispersed DTD entities.
> > Why isn't this idea getting through to anyone? (am v. frustrated!)
> Well, maybe nobody understands you, or maybe it's not an idea with
> much
> fluency. I do DTD work for a living, and spreading one's declarations
> amongst multiple entities doesn't solve anything except spreading
> one's
> declarations amongst multiple entities. Some people call it
> modularization.
	[Peter Jones]  The idea I'm driving at is that DTDs should not
be tied down to namespace prefixes, and should be maximally re-useable.
The namespace prefix should be used only as a shorthand within the
document. THe URI of the namespace can (for user option) be made to have
significance (beyond avoiding name collisions) by denoting the address
of a document entity where declarations lie. Validation would then be
against a declaration which only concerns the name part of the qualified

	DTD entity contains:
	<!ELEMENT   number   (content1 | content2| content3) >

	Document contains
	(ignoring the fact that I can't remember the exact syntax)

	<foo:number xmlns:foo="http://...[whatever]">

	Where the URI refers to the file containing the declaration
above, and validation takes place only on the name "number" NOT the
qualified name "foo:number".

	You can then have old style DTDs or compound docs or whatever.

> It doesn't address the real issues the arise when one is attempting to
> create a 'compound' document type from multiple sources. The namespace
> draft solves only one problem (name collisions), but it introduces a
> few other (what are IMO profound) problems.
> As for nebulosity, we don't need nebulosity, we need a DTD with both
> of
> its feet on solid ground.
> Murray
> ......................................................................
> ..
> ...
> Murray Altheim, SGML Grease Monkey
> <mailto:altheim&#64;>
> Member of Technical Staff, Tools Development & Support
> Sun Microsystems, 901 San Antonio Rd., UMPK17-102, Palo Alto, CA
> 94303-4900
>        Ernst Martin comments in 1949, "A certain degree of noise in 
>        writing is required for confidence. Without such noise, the 
>        writer would not know whether the type was actually printing 
>        or not, so he would lose control."

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