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   RE: Begging the Question

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2000 22:01:24 -0500

At 06:34 PM 12/29/00 -0800, Tim Bray wrote:
>>Unfortunately, it serves far more as a point of contention than a point of
>>authority.  As one of its authors, I expect you'd disagree with that, but
>>on flat logic, you've missed my point.
>Wrong.  The spec serves primarily as a guide to implementing software.  
>A huge amount of software has been implemented which conforms to the 
>namespace spec, including substantially all production-quality 
>XML-centric software anywhere in the world.  This substantiates the 
>claim that Andrew and I are making: that the namespace spec does what 
>it sets out to do.

As one of the poor schmucks who has the lucky job of explaining these
issues to the world, I'm afraid it's my experience that this spec has sowed
far more confusion than production-quality XML-centric software, and far
more confusion than any of its peers.  Your so-called success has been my
misery - in books, in discussions, at conferences.

I presented on namespaces at XMLDevCon 2000 in San Jose, expecting a few
wacko spec-lawyers to show up.  Instead I had 200+ developers, asking all
of the hard (read unresolved and unintuitive) questions all the way
through.  Namespace discussions are a staple of every XML-related mailing
list I've encountered, even those where I wouldn't have expected it.

Which audience had their problems solved?  Software developers?  Maybe.  I
granted that the spec provides "an attribute-based syntax for associating
identifiers with prefixes which uses element structures to define its scope."

For developers attempting to use namespaces, though, the muck has only
grown deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper.  Nearly two years later, we
still don't have consensus on what namespaces are, or how best to use them.

Is this _really_ what you wanted to do?

>The problems you are (and many others) have pointed out repeatedly
>is that there are large unresolved problems about sharing semantics
>and schemas and other related resources, which are highlighted but
>not solved by XML namespaces.

Have XML namespaces eased those problems, or aggravated them?  I'd suggest
the latter, though I expect disagreement.  (I can also see a certain
perverse argument that suggests making these issues explicit and repetitive
has forced us to address them, though I lose some sympathy for that view
with each repetition.)

>I (and I suspect everyone else who helped build the spec) agree
>that these are important and serious problems.  I see no inconsistency
>between this position and the position that the spec does what it
>says it does, especially considering the evidence of its widespread
>implementation. -Tim

I don't see, however, that any arguments whatsoever beyond mere syntax are
resolved by the authority of the spec.  Fortunately, you don't appear to
claim this.  Others have.

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


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