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   Web Design Principles (was Re: [xml-dev] Generality of HTTP)

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1/26/2002 5:05:35 PM, Paul Prescod <paul@prescod.net> wrote:

>What if the web works because it was designed properly and we stop
>paying attention to the design?

That's definitely something to think about carefully. My original 
point was more in reference to the argument that disallowing relative 
URIs in namespaces would somehow undermine the "Architecture of the 
Web."  I haven't read Roy Fielding's work, but I doubt if it says 
much about XML namespaces, and I'm almost positive that no one with 
Fielding's clarity of vision is guiding the development of the XML 
family of specs.

Let's examine the design principles of "The Web": 
http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Principles.html is worth reading 
frequently and memorizing the key points:

Keep it Simple
Design in Modularity
Be Tolerant in What You Accept, Strict in What You Produce
Do One Thing Well
Favor Simplicity Over Power

  I completely agree that everyone connected with the Web should be 
paying attention to these design principles as the design of the Web 
technologies evolves. BUT I'd suggest that the W3C itself has not, to 
put it mildly, insisted on these adherence to these principles in its 
recent output.    

The Web has a hard core -- HTTP and URIs definitely, (X)HTML and XML 
1.0 to a very great extent, and all sorts of other things such as 
namespaces and schemas and xlink that fuzz out from there. I would 
question whether those peripheral parts of the web that do not 
obviously conform to its design principles should be considered to be 
"designed properly" until a lot more experience says so.

Until that happens, I'm very leery of arguments along the lines of "I 
understand the design of The Web, and doing XYZ violates it." Newton, 
as I understand it, invented much of his mathematics to support his 
alchemical research ... The math stood the test of time, and the 
alchemy is clearly nonsense, even though Newton presumably thought 
they were integral parts of an overall "architecture."  


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