What XHTML should do with namespaces

Rick Jelliffe ricko at allette.com.au
Thu Sep 16 19:54:19 BST 1999

 1) There should be three namespaces:

 2) These namespace should be formally defined by means of a simple
list in each case, so that every HTML 4 element is allocated to one only
namespace each.

  3) There should be a EXTENSIBLE XHTML DTD created, in which all
relevant attributes are declared for elements, but all element types
selves have no definitions or definitions of ANY.  It is this DTD that
documents should be transmitted with. It allows attribute defaulting
and is open for extensibility, but provides weak type checking by
recipient validators.

 4) There should be 3 other DTDs created:
    strict (includes only elements from the base namespace)
    transitional (includes only elements from the base and slack
    frameset (includes elements from all namespaces)
These three DTDs can be used for server/generator/tidier programs
but are not for usual publically-distributed documents.

This is the correct use of namespaces IMHO. Also, it makes XHTML
documents extensible without DTD rewriting, which the current
XHTML specification does not allow.  In a sense, "strictly conforming
XHTML documents" should be called non-extensible HTML!

XHTML should start off mandating this kind of weakly typed DTD
to allow extensibility: the strong typing should be provided by
future XML Schema languages, with the DTD becoming merely
a way to declare entities, transport comments, define attributes
and defaults tersely, and for providing some kinds of document-specific
restrictions to schemas.

XHTML' approach to namespace is wrong because the whole thing is
mistaken: lets not enshrine closed content models any more!  XHTML
should support extensibility!

Rick Jelliffe

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