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   RE: power uses of XML vs. simple uses of XML

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: XML-Dev Mailing list <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Sun, 09 Jul 2000 08:44:47 -0400

I didn't mean to reopen the great 'are namespaces good for anything?'
debate and I'll try to close it here quickly.

At 12:43 PM 7/9/00 +0100, Matt Sergeant wrote:
>I think maybe you missed my point about "a variety of ways". If you're
>only using XML in one domain and you don't need namespaces then there's
>no need to gratuitously implement them. But work in different
>areas/domains and with different technologies and eventually you're going
>to run into a need for namespaces, unless you expand your tagset/DTD
>beyond all sensibility.

A lot of developers only work in one area or domain or even only one
XML-based project.  That's some of what I mean about power usage (which
folks devoting their thoughts to XML are interested in) being different
from simple usage ('just trying to get the job done, now get out of my way,
please').  Power users are interested in Matt's suggestion, but simple
users may not care, period.

Trying to explain that "you don't know where your documents will be in
fifty years" doesn't have a whole lots of impact, either.

I've heard from a few developers that the mere fact that DTDs weren't
namespace-aware led to a brief period of soul-searching in which they
decided to ignore both namespaces and DTDs.  Now that's a side effect I
didn't expect!

>> I think namespaces are really only useful in a limited number of cases
>> (where arbitrary embedding is common) unless they are being used 
>> gratuitously.
>I feel the opposite. Namespaces are incredibly useful for modularisation,
>and should be used to ensure that your DTD for one application is
>sensible and re-usable.

Maybe best practice is to declare a default namespace on the root element
of every document you're creating where namespaces "aren't being used".
Oddly, though, I don't think I've ever heard this suggestion put forward,
even in my own books.  (It's Sunday morning, no coffee, so I'm probably

I'll have to think about that one.  While it fits well into generic
processing infrastructures, I'm not sure its a good idea in general.

Simon St.Laurent
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
http://www.simonstl.com - XML essays and books

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