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   Re: [xml-dev] Current status of XLink

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In a message dated 3/25/2004 12:10:40 PM GMT Standard Time, AWelch@piper-group.com writes:

What is the current status of Xlink?

Good question.

I have googled around quite a bit but only found information that is
over 2 years old...  Has anyone done anything with it?

The most serious/widespread use of XLink that I am aware of is in XBRL, http://www.xbrl.org and then follow the links to the specification documents.

There is use of simple XLink in SVG and a half-hearted use of one or two fragments of XLink in XForms 1.0.

It does pop up in unexpected places from time to time though. So moribund might be a better word than dead. :) Or, as actors say, "resting". :)

I ask because I have a custom independent linking solution, that
potentially has to process Xlinks as well.  I suspect the requirement
has come from a manager, rather than a developer, who would like a
one-to-many indpendent linking ability and read the 2 year old
evangelising on the subject.

Where can I find some more recent information?

Good question. I doubt if there is much.

Bob Du Charme (if my memory serves me correctly) did a piece on XML.com some considerable time ago. It might be worth looking at.

Is xlink/xpointer just slow to take off, or is it already dead?

It is difficult for anyone outside W3C to know whether XLink is dead or not. The W3C TAG, http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/issues.html?type=1, has agreed not to know what the scope of XLink is. With technical "leadership" like that it can't be surprising that those outside W3C find confidence slipping.

Go to the URL just given and do a Ctrl+F for XLink then follow the tortuous history from there.

The sad reality is that (hyper)linking at the W3C is a horrible mess. The mess was, at least in part, caused by naive assumptions at W3C circa 1998 about how XML would be used on the Web. Remember XML as "SGML for the Web"? Over the next couple of years as the use of XML evolved the approach in XLink seemed to play a perpetual game of catch up. The end result was that the XLink specification ended up a little like a camel at a sophisticated dinner party - useful for specific tasks but misshapen, with nobody wanting to go too close because of its bad breath and many trying to pretend it simply wasn't there.

Will son of XLink be resurrected at W3C? There certainly is a need for the (hyper)linking mess to be cleared up. I don't expect (but could be spectacularly wrong) to see anything significant happening in the short term. I doubt there is the political will or the technical clarity of thought to make anything useful happen in the immediate future.

Unless the W3C political scene has changed significantly the Horse-and-buggy Text Markup Language, HTML, party will fight any future for XLink 1.0 tooth and claw.

Combined with the lack of political will at W3C and lack of technical vision I think the message regarding cleaning up the W3C (hyper)linking mess has to be "Don't hold your breath!".

Andrew Watt


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