Announcement: XML Infoset Requirements Published

David Megginson david at
Sun Feb 21 23:02:18 GMT 1999

Rob Schoening writes:

 [on layering namespaces over XML]

 > This is the crux of the problem.  Putting the markup spec at the
 > bottom of a stack, as it were, automatically gives it a more
 > significant status than the higher-level specs.  Have the working
 > groups stopped to reflect on the signifigance of this assumption?
 > This is a really big deal.

Not necessarily -- from the XML perspective, XML is at the bottom of
the stack; from the RDF perspective the RDF data model is at the
bottom of the stack and XML is just one possible serial representation
of RDF graphs; for the DOM and XSL, XML is one possible source of
information to be presented through an API or rendered/converted.

Even namespaces could be abstracted to a set of conventions that are
not directly tied to XML syntax, though no one has bothered to do that 
yet, just as TCP does not (in principle) require IP.

 > This has all the makings of a written langauge that is too
 > difficult to speak because the ideosycrasies of the written grammer
 > gum up the "higher" levels.

<warning priority="high">If you are allergic to university lectures on 
the history of language, STOP READING NOW!</warning>

Written language has certain predicatable characteristics -- in both
English today and in Latin two millenia ago, for example, the written
language has tended to be conservative both in its grammar and in its
vocabulary, and its canonical usage has tended to serve as a
membership function for certain professions and social classes.  I
know of no case of written grammar 'gumming up' the higher levels,
though because of universal education, written English has had
considerably more influence on spoken English than written Latin ever
had on spoken Latin.

 > This is why no one speaks latin.  

Wow!  That really busts up my understanding of historical phonology.

Actually, if you look at the map, you'll find that the modern forms of
Latin are the predominant language(s) in much of south-western Europe,
most of the Western hemisphere (with the exception of the anglophone
parts of Canada and the U.S.), and scattered parts of Eastern Europe,
Africa, and Asia.  Latin has changed over two millenia, but no more
than proto-Germanic changed over the same period: from the simple
perspective of geographical spread, they're both enormous success

 > This is why it was so difficult for programmers to communicate with
 > each other without switching to another langauge altogether (like
 > UML).

What does that have to do with layering?

 > This layered approach to XML is burying its potential.

I'm having a lot of trouble following the argument -- perhaps a simple
summary of the main points would help.  Do you believe that layering
is a problem because it's hard to keep track of or manage the
different layers, or do you believe that XML should not be the base

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as: and on CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
(un)subscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list