XML in the real world... Was "Re: Another look atnamespaces"

Tyler Baker tyler at infinet.com
Fri Sep 17 06:04:17 BST 1999

Ann Navarro wrote:

> At 04:01 PM 9/16/99 -0400, Tyler Baker wrote:
> >Ann Navarro wrote:
> >
> >> At 11:43 AM 9/16/99 -0400, Hunter, David wrote:
> >> >(If I develop an Intranet application, I want to be able to
> >> >use XHTML without clients having to run out to the W3C site regularly.
> >> >Ditto for any other XML vocabularies which are defined going forward, from
> >> >the W3C or anyone else.)
> >>
> >> It also should be noted that there's nothing precluding a cache'd copy of
> >> that "thing" for that Intranet application.
> >
> >True, but I think all of this misses the point here. Since November 1997
> >when I started
> >working with XML, I have never once found any need for a DTD or some other
> >Schema language for
> >the applications I have written which use XML.
> We need to be careful to remember that when working with Recommendations,
> our own personal experiences aren't the only experiences that are
> applicable. I personally detest frames, yet they were popular enough to
> make it into previous HTML Recs. That I didn't like/need/use them didn't
> invalidate their (then) usefulness.

Comparing frames to schemas is like comparing apples to oranges. I don't mind a
spec having lots of unnecessarily complex and perhaps generally useless features
so long as they are not a prerequisite for accomplishing simple tasks at both the
software level as well as the user level. "Namespaces in XML" is an add on to
XHTML which effectively adds a complex and generally useless feature (as currently
defined) that also happens to be a prerequisite to getting anything simple

For example, while working on an XML parser package a while back, I was
considering implementing support for XSchema as I found DTD's to not do too well
out of a document context. But then I started thinking "Will anyone ever need XML
Schemas in the first place". As I said before, other than for the sake of having a
language for expressing a data format in programmer documentation (like with
EBNF), what does a schema do at the software level other than for enforcing rules
in an editor? I look at XML as being more of a protocol than anything of
persistent value even though I have used XML for both persistence and as a
serialization protocol in the same application (a testament to XML 1.0 being
simple enough to be useful for all kinds of tasks).

So with respect to XHTML, again I beg the question, why do we need three HTML
specs when most HTML parsers are some hack job that try and handle everything that
can possibly be thrown at it?. When writing one of these very forgiving parsers,
falling back on some DTD for validation will get you absolutely nothing.

So even though in principle 3 XHTML namespaces might make more sense than having
just one, what does this actually buy you at the software level (in other words
what does it buy for the poor souls at MS and AOL who have to implement all of
this stuff in the next generation of web browsers), what does it buy professional
webmasters who now have to not only create specially tailored web sites for
Navigator and Internet Explorer, but now may have to create web sites for these
two browsers times three for each namespace, and what does it buy end-users who
will need to take a bottle of Advil whenever they first hear the word "Namespace"?

Remember that HTML really took off because it was simple and just about any novice
computer user could whip up a web page in no time flat. What is the purpose of
making things more complicated if they serve no useful purpose for the future. I
mean, how are we enhancing the user experience of HTML in web browsers and other
applications with having namespaces in XHTML in the first place? Having the
"Namespaces in XML" spec fall into XHTML is about the worse thing you could ever
do if you want the next generation of HTML to be usable by anyone other than
experienced professional programmers. Even though I really could care less about
HTML right now for the applications I write at the moment, I just don't like
seeing an entire generation of web developers and web users have to deal with an
HTML spec that has a much higher learning curve than necessary.



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