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   Namespaces, Architectural Forms, and Sub-Documents

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  • From: David Megginson <ak117@freenet.carleton.ca>
  • To: xml-dev Mailing List <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 10:06:58 -0500

It seems to me that when you want to embed large contiguous structures
from different document types in an XML document, each different
namespace should be its own sub-document, referenced as a binary
entity (or using whatever other mechanisms are available in XML-Link).

Good tools and protocols should make it possible to create, transmit,
and process compound documents as if they were single files.  This
will be necessary anyway for supporting multimedia.

Here are some general guidelines:

* Architectural forms are most suitable for applications where
  multiple inheritance is required, or where elements belonging to a
  different document type are scattered throughout a document.

* Sub-documents are most suitable for applications where all of the
  element belonging to a different document type are rooted in a
  single subtree. 

"namespace:gi" element type names are unsuitable for several reasons:

1) The complexity of namespaces is exposed to the author rather than
   hidden in the DTD (as it is, optionally, with architectural forms).

2) Multiple inheritance is not possible (X can be a kind of Y or a
   kind of Z, but not both).

3) Standard DTD-based validation is not possible, and it is more
   difficult to create DTD-driven authoring tools.

4) Both architectural forms and sub-documents can be fully supported
   under the existing spec by _both_ validating and non-validating XML
   parsers: no changes necessary.  Furthermore, they will also remain
   compatible with SGML tools.

Why are people worried about writing specs to solve a problem that
already has good, working, available solutions?

All the best,


David Megginson                 ak117@freenet.carleton.ca
Microstar Software Ltd.         dmeggins@microstar.com

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