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   Re: Question About Namespaces and DTDs

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: XML-Dev Mailing list <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Tue, 25 Jul 2000 21:40:37 -0400

At 05:36 PM 7/25/00 -0700, Tim Bray wrote:
>At 07:38 PM 25/07/00 -0400, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
>>There are still people who'll claim that Namespaces
>>is _almost_ perfect, though I think they're declining in number lately.
>Well, I'm one of those people.  Namespaces do a very good job of what
>they were designed to do - give elements and attributes globally unique
>names that allow software to recognize and differentiate.   They have
>been implemented by pretty well every interesting piece of XML software
>in the world (hint: it's not hard) and in practice, in real-world
>implementations, just work.

Well, like I said, there are a few of these people...

>Yes, namespaces and DTDs don't get along very well.  At the end of the
>day, the conclusion was that uniquifying names in a simple and clean way
>was an important enough piece of the puzzle that that was an acceptable
>cost.  Although, to be honest, nobody foresaw how far into excessive
>overengineering schemas were going to veer... 

Schemas did seem simple long ago...

>Anyhow, the notion that namespaces were foisted on a resisting populace
>by a small group of insiders is totally silly.  There was tons of input and 
>agonizing hand-wringing and meetings and emails and successive drafts etc 
>etc ad nauseum.  And in some parts of the spec, the community consensus was 
>questionable.  But the basic notion of using URIs to extend names and make 
>them unique had overwhelming buy-in from almost everyone (except those who 
>wanted to stay with architectural forms).  Lots and lots of alternatives 
>were considered.

I think you may be selectively forgetting the various battles over
namespaces in early '99 - my favorite example remaining (of course):

While that was a particularly heated post, there was a lot of heat even
before the namespaces spec was approved, and I don't think it's pushing too
hard to suggest that it might have been a good warning sign...

>There's no requirement that you like the namespace system, and
>it's certainly possible that there was a better way to have done it that
>the community wasn't smart enough to cook up.  But please drop this notion
>that there's consensus on the other side: that namespaces are broken in
>obvious ways and that these errors are avoidable in future.  -Tim

I think we've wasted enough time on namespace issues of nearly every
conceivable kind that it's impossible to avoid concluding that namespaces
are broken.  They may, of course, be less broken than any other choice, in
which case I'm very very grateful for the relative quiet we've enjoyed.

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


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