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   RE: XML Schemas: Best Practices

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  • From: Michael Brennan <Michael_Brennan@Allegis.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Fri, 01 Dec 2000 12:53:45 -0800

> From: Thomas B. Passin [mailto:tpassin@home.com]
> That's why I advocate that actual namespaces ought to be URIs that are
> clearly not URLs.  That would discourage people from trying to treat
> them as if they were.  Especially in examples.

I agree, but it doesn't seem to me that the prevailing standards give
implementors very good choices in this regard. This whole URI/URL/URN/XML
Namespaces issue seems quite murky and confusing to me. It is extremely
counter-intuitive and confusing to the layman.

We had -- some time ago -- started using URNs based on our domain name for
namespace names. However, it appears to me (and I am certainly far from an
expert on this stuff) that this approach is not sanctioned by any standard
or standards body and has generally fallen out of favor. It appears that the
intent of the IETF is that URNs can only be validly assigned by authorized
registration authorities, and that process is still not defined. Am I
correct in this? If this is the case, then what is the alternative to using

This one single issue is such a huge source of confusion and
misunderstanding that I really wish there was better guidance on this. Just
try to explain to someone who is not a regular xml-dev reader that
"http://whatever..." is just a name and doesn't necessarily point to
anything. All of the semantic arguments to this effect may be correct, but
they don't contribute to a good general understanding or making XML
standards approachable to novices (whose understanding of the web is shaped
by their use of web browsers, and to whom a URL is an "Address" or

Right now, our plan is to abandon our URN approach and move to URLs,
following the lead of recent standards from the W3C and industry
consortiums. If there is a better way, I would love to hear about it. And I
would add that I hate the various schemes I've seen proposed for URIs based
on UUIDs or similar schemes. Domain names are something that everyone
(pretty much) understands at this point, and I want a naming mechanism that
builds upon DNS. Maybe we need a new "name:" URI scheme?


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