Bizarre XLinks (was Re: Namespace proposal)

David Megginson david at
Mon Dec 20 13:50:18 GMT 1999

"Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl at> writes:

> The last draft had a nifty if sort of crusty mechanism for specifying
> XLinks using any attribute names you wanted (see
>  The most recent
> draft lost that mechanism and everything requires the use of xlink:href
> instead of myown:src.

Yes, I argued strongly in favour of this on the old XML WG, at one of
the few meetings when we actually had the opportunity to spend time on
XLink.  Though I admit to not having read the latest draft, I have now
changed my position, for reasons that I will explain below.

> To me, that's bizarre, excessively demanding, and highly irritating
> behavior.  XLink right now is what I call an 'inconsiderate spec', one
> which requires everything else built on it to look like it, without the
> kind of openness that XML provided in the first place.

Sure, it is annoying, but this is not a problem that's confined to
XLink -- I have changed my position because I think that any remapping 
mechanism needs to be implemented across all of XML, and not confined
to XLink, or we'll end up with a nasty hodgepodge of mapping
mechanisms.  There are two possibilities:

1. We use some kind of schema mechanism to say that myown:src
   is a type of xlink:href.

2. We use some kind of mapping mechanism in the document instance
   itself to say that a specific myown:src attribute is a type of

The former mechanism is well in line with the work already taking
place on XML Schemas, but I'm reluctant to endorse it because it will
make schema processing a required part of XML processing.  

The second mechanism can already be accomplished using Architectural
Forms, and I'm sure that eventually we'll either adapt AFs in XML or,
more likely, develop something a little simpler with a catchier name
and a freely-redistributable spec that works more-or-less the same

Have you ever tried getting permission to include an ISO spec on a CD
in a book or to mirror it on a Web site, even if the spec is already
available free online (actually, I'm pretty sure that Simon has)?
It's sad that an organization that considers itself the Guardian of
Open Standards just doesn't get it when it comes to open documents.
That closed mentality probably harmed SGML more than any other single
problem, despite the good intentions of the volunteers who actually
did the ISO SGML work.

> I don't know what anyone else thinks of it, but I've given considerable
> thought to a short proposal rebuilding the remapping mechanism, starting
> with xlink:attributes instead of xml:attributes.  (And yes, I know that
> I'll be changing what that prefix maps to, and not just the @#X! prefix.)

I think that would be a waste of time -- give us a general remapping
mechanism instead, please.  You can take a look at the documentation
for my now-ancient XAF (XML Architectural Forms) package for a few

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

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