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   Re: Question About Namespaces and DTDs

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: Wayne Steele <xmlmaster@hotmail.com>, xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 19:38:12 -0400

At 02:58 PM 7/25/00 -0700, Wayne Steele wrote:
>Let's go back to those good old days of 1998...After XML 1.0 was released, 
>but before Namespaces.

Actually, as I understand it, namespace issues emerged during the XML 1.0
process, but were deliberately put off at that time for later work.  (I
seem to remember something about XML 1.0 being approved contingent on the
development of namespaces, but I suspect that was idle xml-dev gossip.)

>The only way you could do this is to apply DTD's in a way inconsistent with 
>XML 1.0.

I'm not sure it really had to be that painful, but okay.

>Once you did that, you're encouraging people to pass around documents, with 
>DTDs, that are invalid as per XML 1.0.

We're encouraging people now to pass around invalid documents per XML 1.0 -
that doesn't feel very different.

>With validation and DTDs so new and unusual (to the html world), I guess it 
>was decided that deprecating them for a new "namespace-aware-DTD" would be 
>unwise. Especially since 1) this would break SGML compatability, and 2) some 
>sort of XML-Schema was "right around the corner".

1) probably mattered.  2) has proven delayed, at best.

>Namespaces (at least by some people) were seen as part-and-parcel of 
>Schemas. And, as one person told me, "They're like oil and warter: DTDs and 
>Schema don't mix".

That may be the way it is now (though DTDs are still necessary if you want
to declare entities!), but I don't think that was pre-ordained.

>That's my take on it, at least. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

No, you're right.  Indulging in counterfactuals is only really fun because
I realized this morning how many non-billable hours I've wasted on the
incredible number of namespace issues.  (The joys of self-employment...)

>I agree with you, Simon. It should have just been done, and gotten over 
>with. Come to think of it, the Namespaces spec has a lot of other funnies as 

I fear things will get worse before they get better, as URIs promise a
nearly endless supply of excitement.  I'd like to think we could have
gotten over this early, but it was clearly not meant to be.

>Mistakes will happen, and while irritating, it hasn't actually killed 
>anyone. What is more important is that the parties involved (ie the W3 gods, 
>Working Group members, Namespaces Rec editors) understand that they did the 
>wrong thing, and will try to not do it again.
>I think these people are aware of the problems with namespaces, but I don't 
>know if they share my opinion of these problems as mistakes they've 
>inflicted on us.

I don't think they do, though sending them a bill for wasted time might
help make that clear.  There are still people who'll claim that Namespaces
is _almost_ perfect, though I think they're declining in number lately.
XML-URI@w3.org certainly didn't help with that...

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


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