What is a namespace ... really?

david at megginson.com david at megginson.com
Mon Jan 18 02:19:55 GMT 1999

Tim Bray writes:

 > At 06:35 PM 1/16/99 -0800, Terry Allen wrote:
 > >Now, RFC 2396 says (from the Abstract):
 > .... [a URI identifies a resource, which can be anything]
 > >So the "namespace" URI must identify a resource, 
 > Well, gosh, but what if it doesn't?  The original design clearly
 > is intended to support the identification of resources, but we're
 > using it in a different way.

Let's call it splits, and say that the resource that the URI
identifies is the (intangible) namespace itself.

DNS alone isn't suitable, because it leaves the authority in too few
hands: when I belonged to the faculty of the English department at the 
University of Ottawa, I maintained the department's web site at


Note that I did *not* control the top-level www.uottawa.ca, and there
was no subdomain english.uottawa.ca; however, by virtue of my control
over the academic/arts/english part of www.uottawa.ca, I still would
have been able to define a namespace; the same applies to my
http://home.sprynet.com/sprynet/dmeggins/ personal web site.  I don't
think that tying namespaces too closely to DNS would have made sense.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david at megginson.com

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