Why do we write standards?

Paul Prescod paul at prescod.net
Wed Nov 10 19:01:44 GMT 1999

I so thorougly agree with your post on the costs and benefits of
standards that I cannot see why we disagree on the fundamental point.
It's worth trying again.

> Since we know so little about mixing HTML into other vocabularies
> right now, 

That's arguable, considering the number of HTMLish languages exist, but
let's pretend I agree.

> and since we know almost nothing about how XML will be used
> in Web clients, I think that it makes sense to start by standardizing
> only a little bit.  

I am all for incremental standardization!

> Let's give people a standard Namespace (and the
> name case) and then let them start experimenting 

This is the part I get lost. Namecase interoperability is not
interesting in the least. The only reason it would be interesting is if
we were trying to achieve other types of interoperability. Normalizing
TABLE and Table to the same spelling is only useful if they really ARE
the same thing. If my <TABLE> can contain <TITLE> and <FOOBAR> and your
<Table> can contain <if> and <blink> then they are fundamentally
different and adopting the same namecase does not help.

This is even more the case for name*space* interoperability. We use the
same namespace to say that we are working interoperably. If we are not
(or may not be) working interoperably then why would we use the same

It's not about socialism versus libertarinism. It's about adopting a
title like "Democratic Republic of Congo" when there is no democracy to
speak of. 

Namespace equivalent: "Product XYZ supports the XHTML namespace. We use
it in completely different ways than anyone else and our software
crashes with many documents that other people create using XHTML, but we
are XHTML namespace compatible!" What's the damn point?

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself

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