Musing over Namespaces

Didier PH Martin martind at
Fri Dec 17 20:03:39 GMT 1999

Hi Don
Don Said:
What if the registry was a distributed semantic network?
If the problem could be solved, wouldn't it be worth
building it?  Note that this is not the way BizTalk and schema repositories work.

Didier reply:
Right ON!!

I think this could be effectively a good way to have both name space and
schemas documented.

Let's see a practical example since I am precisely working on that this week
(among other things :-)

I created a name space for the dynamic DNS. All Dynamic DNS requests and
responses are transformed respectively into URLs and XML document. For
instance to add a new sub domain to a particular domain you send a HTTP/Get
or HTP/post with the request URL and receive an XML document about the new
inscription, and so on and so forth for all the request/response.

The name space is called DDNS. Today, if I follow the specs I would
assocaite the name space to an empty URI or do like W3C is doing for some of
its own name space URIs, have an HTML page pointed by the URI.

But, not staisfied with such half solution, I tried something: topic maps.
As we all know, do we? topic maps are composed of topic elements and a topic
element contains both names and an extended link (if you map the Hytime link
to xlink). So, the solution was simple, The name space URI is pointing to a
topic map document. This document has for main topic the ddns name space.
The extended link itself points to different specifications used to create
this name space. This could include also schemas.

So, if the name space URI would be use for something useful, it could point
to a topic map document, this latter provide information about the name
space seen as a topic.

But Didier, what did we gained? he said with some incredulity.

Simple, a machine can decode a topic map document but not necessarily an
HTML page. Moreover, if we all agree on a convention about the document
structure, then a processor could easily retreive the schema, humans the
written documentation and even have this name space associated to other ones
by relationship like "is_derived_from" is "is-part_of" or more simply with
set relations and tagging like "finance", "system", "network" etc...

Do others are interested to have meaninful name space? if yes, we can
publish a paper providing a recommendation on how to document a name space.
I'll start the first draft and post it.

Didier PH Martin
Email: martind at
Web New York (
Book to come soon: XML Pro published by Wrox Press

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