Namespaces for "average programmers"

Paul Prescod paul at
Fri Feb 5 18:04:47 GMT 1999

LeT me try again with this namespaces characterization.

You can't do anything useful with markup unless you have two things: a
schema language to enforce constraints and a processing model to *do

If you are truly an average developer, then you don't want to invent a
schema language or processing model. So you must use one that exists.
There are only two standards-track schema languages: DTDs and RDF schemas.
DTDs do not know anything about namespaces. Therefore you do not need to
know anything about namespaces to use DTDs. 

RDF supports namespaces. But RDF's use of namespaces is mostly documented
in RDF itself. "Best practices" for namespace usage in RDF schemas are
specific to RDF. Anyhow I think that it is debatable whether average
programmers use RDF.

On the procesing side, XSL uses namespaces but anybody can figure out how
to use namespaces in RDF just by reading the XSL specification (or a
book/article on XSL). Once again, you don't have to become an expert on
the namespaces specification to use XSL. Plus XSL has essentially no
support for namespaces in the documents it proceses. One day it might, but
again the best practices for namespace usage relative to XSL will arise at
that point.

In other words, it will be at least a year before the infrastructure for
using arbitary namespaces will be available. And using the fixed
namespaces we have today (xml:, xsl:, fo:) is pretty much a no-brainer.
People on the xsl-list seem to have no problem with it. 

In other words, don't worry be happy. The sky is not falling.

(it is interesting to note that XSL gets away with using namespaces
because there is no schema language that defines it. RDF gets away with
using namespaces because there is no RDF processing model. Presumably
every RDF application defines a processing model from scratch.)

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for only himself

"Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did,
but she did it backwards and in high heels."
                                               --Faith Whittlesey

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