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   Re: ATTN: Please comment on XHTML (before it's too late)

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  • From: "Oren Ben-Kiki" <oren@capella.co.il>
  • To: "XMLDev list" <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>
  • Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 09:30:39 +0200

Ann Navarro <ann@webgeek.com> wrote:
> At 07:19 PM 8/28/99 -0400, David Megginson wrote:
> >For those of you who haven't noticed, XHTML has gone to Proposed
> >Recommendation (PR) status at the W3C:
> >
> >  http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1
> >
> >Unlike the last XHTML Working Draft, this PR has reverted to defining
> >*three* separate XHTML Namespace URIs (transitional, strict, and
> >frameset) with the threat of more HTML Namespaces in the future.

Is this a done deal?

> It's no more of a "threat" than the "threat" of people creating their own
> namespaces for any purpose, which is indeed the entire idea behind
> namespaces.

That depends on what you feel "the entire idea of namespaces" to be. To me,
the main idea is to allow applications to distinguish between tags with
different semantics. By qualifying a tag with a namespace, the document
writer essentially informs the application that the semantics of the tag is
that associated with the namespace. The fact that this semantics is defined
outside the XML standards is besides the point.

So according to this idea, applications are built under the assumption that
'my:foo' and 'your:foo' are completely different, with nothing whatsoever in
common. The fact they both have the name 'foo' is considered accidental.
_That's_ the whole idea.

Providing three different namespaces which have the same semantics would
force application writers to abandon this assumption. In XHTML,
'traditional:p', 'strict:p' and 'frameset:p' are the same thing. This would
seriously mess XHTML applications up - put another way, it would cause
generic XML applications to fail on XHTML documents.

For example, consider that a generic XML application must never mix up a
'commercial:order' with an 'administrative:order', no matter what. On the
other hand, one would expect that a 'strict:p' element would be
interchangable with a 'traditional:p' element. For example, in an XHTML
editor, I'd expect to be able to cut one and paste it in replacement of
another. That seems like a messy issue, unless I'm missing something.

> If three namespaces present such an insurmountable problem, perhaps again,
> the current "implementation" of namespaces is at fault.

The problem is not with the namespaces implementation (or definition, or
design). It is with using them to a different purpose then they were
designed for.

Share & Enjoy,

    Oren Ben-Kiki

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