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   RE: [xml-dev] Current status of XLink

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Andrew Watt wrote: 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.
In my view the mess is because XLink simply doesn't fit into the layering of the XML architecture. The whole point of XML is that you can choose any names you like for your objects and attributes, and give them any semantics that you like (typically captured in schemas and stylesheets). So why should relationships be different from objects and attributes, and require fixed names and fixed semantics? 
Hyperlinking is something that belongs in the user interface layer, not in the stored information. The stored information needs to hold relationship information in a much more abstract form. The hyperlinks, like all other user interface objects, should be generated by the stylesheet. It's because the hyperlinking community failed to recognize this that the idea failed to catch on. The other consequence of this is that there is a gaping hole in the XML story as to how abstract relationships should be modelled.
Michael Kay


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