"Clean Specs"

james anderson James.Anderson at mecomnet.de
Mon Feb 8 13:28:21 GMT 1999

Tim Bray wrote:
> ...
> I gotta say, though, the XML spec now feels to me like a ramshackle
> compromise that only just barely works, while namespaces do one simple
> thing and nail it down tight as a drum.   Here's how bad it is; I'm
> working on an Annotated namespaces, just like annotated XML - and I'm
> having serious difficulty figuring out what to write. -Tim

Please correct or rewrite the equivalent of Appendix A so that neither you,
nor the spec, nor other prominent contributors to this forum feel that it is
necessary to disavow it. Use the definitions/formalism it then contains to
describe the examples in the spec. While this order of exposition is not
ideal, the prose in the recommendation has "gotten there first". Introduce
additional examples to document the combinations ((default or overridden
bindings) X (prefixed or unprefixed element names) X (prefixed or unprefixed
attributes names)) which are missing.

For this reader, Appendix A would have been the most useful thing to support
an implementation. While I have come to accept that one should not expect a
definition of a similar form (that is, something at least approximating a
denotational definition) for XML proper, it is unfortunate that the spec for
namespaces does not include a formal definition. And that the semi-formal
description is relegated to "non-normative" status.

The difference between XML proper and "Namespaces in XML" is that while
XMLdescribes a code, for which the BNF suffices, the namespace spec deals
exactly with the relation between the encoded representation and another
domain. If there were a formal description of this relation, then it would
easier to understand, easier to check for completeness and correctness and,
ultimately, easier to produce a conforming implementation.

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