Another look at namespaces

David Brownell david-b at
Fri Sep 17 17:45:55 BST 1999

Ann Navarro wrote:
> At 07:39 AM 9/17/99 -0700, David Brownell wrote:
> >Something can't be both optional and definitive in that
> >way ... if it's optional, some other way could be be
> >at least as correct/definitive.
> Yes, it very well could. I don't see them as being mutually exclusive.

If an alternative can be more correct, then how could that
one approach (overloading the namespace URI to point to one
type of schema information) possibly be definitive ???

Perhaps you could elaborate on your logic here, concretely
in the case of XHTML.

There are a lot of issues that seem to get conflated in
this XHTML-oriented namespace discussion:

    -	"what's a language" ... side issue except that
	the HTML spec ("one language") is claimed to
	describe three ("three DTDs") and this ties to
	the next issue

    -	"how do namespaces and DTDs relate" ... HTML WG
	has chosen a 1-1 mapping, which stance isn't
	in the least bit conservative (causing trouble)

    -	"how do namespaces and schemas relate" ... not
	yet answerable, and also not the same as the DTD
	issue, since what different sorts of schemas will
	do/say/mean is still under discussion

    -	"what do namespaces signify" ... the namespace
	spec says namespaces are used to disambiguate
	_names_ but some attribute more to it than that
	(notably wanting schema coupling approaches)

The problem with the WG's non-conservative stance is clearly
that it's in conflict with a lot of things that the developer
community is doing, which IS conservatively following that
namespace spec:  using namespace URIs to indicate _only_ the
vocabulary selection, and using other mechanisms to establish
couplings for various types of semantics.  (Where "validity"
checking is one kind of optional semantic constraint.)

Perhaps rather than arguing about who's right and who's wrong,
or trying to argue vision statements, the discussion could more
usefully be about how the HTML WG can more usefully work with
the XML developer community it's targetting with XHTML.  That
relationship is clearly not collaborative today; it should be.

- Dave

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