Namespaces and DTDs

Richard L. Goerwitz richard at
Tue Mar 9 14:39:06 GMT 1999

Ronald Bourret wrote:

> > I have several DTDs with conflicting definitions of certain elements.
> > ...Am I going to have to break down and just rewrite the DTDs to use
> > the qualified names?
> If you want to use a namespace-unaware parser, I don't see how you can
> avoid rewriting the DTDs.

Maybe I misunderstand, but as far as I can see, namespaces won't help
you, either.  Why?  Because even if you can refer to, say, your two TITLE
elements by different prefixes, you'll still have to declare the prefixed
elements in the DTD as if they were atomic element names.

Namespaces, in other words, don't solve your problem.  They may make it
worse, in fact, because you have to know what prefixes you are going to
declare in a given document to be able to rewrite your DTD to work with
that document.

There was a furor two or three months ago on this list about namespaces
breaking validation.  That furor died down when the namespace spec became
an official recommendation (a done deal, in other words).

Just so you know, though:  The issue you raise is just the sort of thing
that caused the furor.  People were expecting namespaces to help in just
your situation.  When they found out that namespaces didn't help, many
were disappointed, and said so.  The most effective responses I saw were
from people who said, in effect, "Namespaces do far less than you want
or expect them to."

The question is my mind is whether they actually get in the way.

(You won't hear any gripes from me if my take on namespaces turns out to
be dead wrong.)


Richard Goerwitz
PGP key fingerprint:    C1 3E F4 23 7C 33 51 8D  3B 88 53 57 56 0D 38 A0
For more info (mail, phone, fax no.):  finger richard 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