Colonialism, SAX, Java, and Namespaces

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at
Fri Feb 5 15:13:25 GMT 1999

<vent temp="2000">

At 08:00 AM 2/5/99 -0600, Paul Prescod wrote:
>I don't think that "average developers" need to worry about namespaces. It
>is quite simple to build powerful, useful applications without them. I
>mean if you are implementing RDF or XSL then you need them, but short of
>that, I wouldn't bother.

I would really appreciate if someday the people building W3C specs would
acknowledge that 'average developers' actually do have to worry about
namespaces, notations, parameter entities, include/ignore sections, and
trying to read the specs themselves. If they would then take that knowledge
and apply it to the specification-writing process, from start to finish, we
might be able to move forward with a lot less back-and-forth about what
these things are really supposed to mean.

I get the feeling that some of the writers on this list - though
_certainly_ not all - view the 'average developer' as some kind of
primitive creature that should be shunted aside in the name of progress.
This colonialist view (I don't know what else to compare it to - simple
elitism seems inadequate) has contributed to the development of a lot of
tools that people talk about but very few people understand.  If, instead
of treating average developers as know-nothings to be conquered (they don't
need to know the details, they just need to use it), we treat average
developers as potential contributors, we might move farther along with XML.

Namespaces themselves, in most cases, aren't that hard to use.  They do,
however, contain the potential for disaster if applied in certain
circumstances in certain ways, and understanding that potential (and how to
avoid it) is critical information that's needed for anyone building a
namespace-aware application or using those sets of tools.  Not all of those
people are in the core XML community, and not all of them give a damn about
XML, but they may need to know what it takes to use namespaces effectively
and safely.


Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Building XML Applications (March)
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