Statement from HTML WG

Oren Ben-Kiki oren at
Sat Sep 25 22:23:41 BST 1999

> >From steven Thu Sep 16 15:02:06 1999

> To try and explain how the HTML WG came to the decision it did, I
> enclose a document below that outlines the process we went
> through. You'll see that we did approach the XML community on the
> issue (via the xml-plenary list), and there was not a single answer
> from the community.
> I hope this document helps.

It does, greatly. It is a good example of how access to rationale
documentation eliminates all sort of wild speculation. Thanks for sending it
to us.

I would like to respond to a point made in that document:

> The only place where the distinction between using one namespace and
> using three is important is when including fragments of xhtml in
> another document...
> ... the namespace is the only mechanism available for identifying the
> vocabulary intended...

As long as the XSchema recommendation is not final, we don't know this to be
true. Given that this issue is highly contraversial (at least as indicated
in the XML developers mailing list), there is a reasonable chance that
another mechanism might be chosen to solve this problem. If you had written
"the only _currently available_ mechanism", I would have agreed.

> ...
> So in the light of valid use-cases for both positions, the different
> use-cases need to be evaluated to see which solution is preferable.
> The HTML WG opted for three namespaces on the grounds that one
> namespace makes one of the classes of use-case impossible, whereas
> three namespaces allows both, only making one of the classes harder to
> do.

This decision is perfectly reasonable given that the issue _must_ be
resolved in the XHTML 1.0 spec. It is not at all clear to me that (i) it
falls under the mandate of the XHTML WG, (ii) the use cases requiring
resolving it are urgent enough in practice to require a resolution before
the XSchema recommendation is finalized, and (iii) if the need is truly
urgent, the pressure should not be on the XSchema WG to announce a "firm"
position on this issue (before the final recommendation is out) so that the
XHTML WG (and maybe others) could use it as a basis.

I suggest that the XHTML recommendation should sidestep this issue by not
providing a namespace for XHTML. Once the XSchema WG will reach a firm
decision on this issue (this doesn't necessarily mean a final
recommendation), the XHTML recommendation should be amended accordingly.

I'm aware that this message is sent after the Sep 22nd deadline for the W3C
review process. I am now in the middle of a military reserve duty and could
not get at the net for the last week.

Thanks again,

    Oren Ben-Kiki

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