Musing over Namespaces

Clark C. Evans clark.evans at
Wed Dec 15 03:21:24 GMT 1999

On Tue, 14 Dec 1999, David Megginson wrote:
> Clark C. Evans writes:
>  > On 14 Dec 1999, David Megginson wrote:
>  > > > Why can't we have central registry of XML names?
>  > > 
>  > > I don't think that the XML world needs its own Network Solutions.
>  > > Hmmm .. actually, maybe I could squat on element names like "task" and
>  > > "work-order" until GM pays me $2M for them.
>  > 
>  > I think it can be done very effectively informally.  The Oxford
>  > English Dictionary is not _the_ authoritative reference for
>  > english, but it is certainly one of the top ones... and other
>  > dictionaries will have a hard time if they are too "incompatible"
> Let's say that we have an element- and attribute-name registery
> instead of Namespaces, and I register the element name "purchase";
> now, presumably, no one else can use that in a document type without
> my authorization (since a registry is pointless otherwise).

Definitions in the OED are not pointers to a company
who has defined the word.  The OED is valueable not
beacuse it "defines" but more so beacuse the organization
continually scans the language for new meanings and
twists in usage; thus is is much more of a defacto
than a dejure standard -- it changes by usage.

What you assumed below is more of a dejure system
where a given entity would "own" the name...

> Personally, I'd rather see a world with
>   {}purchase
>   {}purchase
>   {}purchase

This is flexible, but it could be tedious.

I'd rather see an XML DTD which describes 
a particular usage; and then have a central
repository for people to store their suggested
usage of a particular name.

>From a database like this, one could attempt to 
define "best practices" -- scanning what "other" 
purchases are out there; perhaps even using an 
existing definition rather than each company 
creating their own.

A database of usage could also be used for 
independent groups to identify common patterns
and submit more or less generic versions for
a particular industry.  It could also be used
to generate mappings from one system to 
another, etc.

I don't think anyone would be proposing this:

> than a world with
>   XML Name Registery Search results
>   ---------------------------------
>   XML name: "purchase"
>   Sorry, this element name has already been registered.
>   Owner: Microsoft Ltd.
>   Technical contact: xmlnames at
>   Contact info: ...

However, if it was, the registry shoudl be a government
function, and the names should be auctioned to the
highest bidder.... *smirk*  *evil grin*


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