Megginson and XMLNews

David Megginson david at
Tue Apr 13 03:59:00 BST 1999

Walter Underwood writes:

 > I expect to ship our next release pre-configured for NITF,

That's wonderful.

 > but I sure would like to see some common practice beyond <title>.
 > Mostly, our customers would appreciate it, and the people doing
 > searches would get better results.

Actually, I think that you need something a little more robust --
otherwise, we'll end up with a hodge-podge of rules for what element
names people can and cannot use.  I would not want to forbid someone
from using something like this:

  <?xml version="1.0"?>

   <desc>Originator of SGML.</desc>

Universal names (as in "Namespaces in XML") get you part way there,
because different document types can share semantics of well-known
element types:

  <?xml version="1.0"?>

  <book xmlns:html="">
    <html:title>This is the book title</html:title>
What's really useful, though, is to develop some kind of inheritance
scheme, so that you can say "this is just like an html:title, except
that it's also a little more specialised".  Architectural forms
provide a very lightweight mechanism for this; XML Schemas will
probably provide another.

Personally, I'd love to see NITF take advantage of namespaces, even to 
a very small extent.  To start, a simple default namespace would be

  <?xml version="1.0"?>

  <nitf xmlns="">
    <title>Simple Story</title>
      <hl1>Simple Story</hl1>
      <bytag>By David Megginson</bytag>
     <p>This is a simple story that mentions <cite>Shakespeare in

This would allow other document types to reuse NITF components in a
well-defined way, and search engines to recognise them wherever
they're used.  Right now, we're not doing this in XMLNews-Story
because we want to remain strictly subset-compatible with NITF, but
we'll certainly encourage the NITF people to consider updating the

In fact, since NITF borrows heavily from HTML (and also a bit from
HyTime, though that part is not included in the XMLNews-Story subset),
it would be nice to put the HTML stuff in a separate namespaces so
that search engines and other processing software can do something
useful with it even if they do not know NITF itself:

  <?xml version="1.0"?>

  <nitf xmlns=""
    <html:title>Simple Story</html:title>
      <hl1>Simple Story</hl1>
      <bytag>By David Megginson</bytag>
     <html:p>This is a simple story that mentions <html:cite>Shakespeare in

This might help a bit with the search engine problem.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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