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Re: SAX Filters for Namespace Processing
- From: Tim Bray <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: email@example.com
- Date: Sun, 05 Aug 2001 10:37:55 -0700
At 11:38 PM 04/08/01 -0700, Tom Bradford wrote:
... hundreds of lines of rhetoric about how the Beautiful Primitive
Noble-Savage Simplicity of XML 1.0 is being sullied by layers of
"academic" onanism, of which namespaces are said to be an example ...
And it's perfectly OK not to like namespaces. Lots of people live
in monolithic vocabularies and don't have the problems they're
trying to solve, and there are other solutions to those problems
(cf Architectural Forms) that many people like better.
>Again, not really my point. It was argued that namespaces are
>essentially the determining factor of what an element 'means' in a
>specific context, and that is in no way an absolute truth.
I'd go further; it's a ridiculous claim that nobody sensible
has ever made.
A point I've argued many times is that markup isn't about meaning
at all; XML just gives you a way to send a bundle of labeled
strings of text, with recursion and internationalization, from
point A to point B. Namespaces allow the labels to come from
multiple vocabularies, and make it cheap for software to find
the labeled chunks it cares about. This is the value proposition.
The problems of how you tie labels to semantics, and how you express
semantics, are both gateways into large complex arenas of debate
where we observe little consensus and few canonically-agreed-on
best practices. XML is only useful insofar as it doesn't get
co-opted into one of the factions or theories in this space. It
is useful for programmers, and good for high-value information,
to express it in an open, labeled textual form that is as
human-readable as possible. The world seems to share this view.
Many of us think that it is also useful and good to qualify those
labels by URIs in order to solve collision and recognition
problems. The larger community of actual programmers writing
actual code seems to mostly buy in, but there remain pockets of
fierce resistance (although I've never encountered any outside
of the W3C and xml-dev).
Once again: XML doesn't do semantics. Namespaces don't do
semantics. These are just labels. Labels are good and useful
and you can't build semantics without them; how you actually
do build semantics remains an open question. -Tim