Namespace question: Do attributes inherit the element's namespace?

Tim Bray tbray at
Thu Jan 6 20:13:16 GMT 2000

At 02:51 PM 1/6/00 -0500, Bob Kline wrote:
>> Basically, then, the main question was whether the attribute names in
>> the following two examples are identical:
>>   <html:a href="foo">
>>   <html:a html:href="foo">
>> For most applications (such as RDF, and, possibly, XSL), the answer is
>> a firm 'no', but the WG decided to make it *possible* to distinguish

>I'm feeling a little lost in the medieval subtleties here.  

It's a pity this stuff is so hard, but well... it's hard.  One of the
brightest computer programmers I ever knew, Phil Karlton, said "There
are only two hard problems in Computer Science: cache invalidation
and naming things."  I agree that it's hard to avoid discussions that
are reminiscent of medieval theology.

So... let's try again.  Consider these two

   <html:a href="foo">
   <html:a html:href="foo">

The namespace spec could have said one of three things:

1. These must always be treated as identical
2. These must always be treated as different
3. Applications can make up their minds

The then-Working Group eventually went for #3.  It's kind of like
non-Euclidean geometries; each of the three options above produces a
self-consistent universe, so the only question is, which one do we
want to live in?  

Most applications, it seems, want to live in Universe #1, and the
namespace spec allows them to do that.  -Tim

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at
Archived as: and on CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
To unsubscribe, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
unsubscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list