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Re: [xml-dev] Re: XML element names (was: Ten Years Later - XML 1.0 Fifth Edition?)

On Sat, Feb 23, 2008 at 10:22:30AM +0530, Mukul Gandhi wrote:
> I came across this interesting article, which appeared in an Indian
> newspaper here.
> http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Apostrophes_in_names_baffle_PCs/articleshow/2806256.cms
> This describes why prohibition of certain characters in names
> (actually, person names as described in this article), can cause
> certain people from not being able to use certain applications. I
> think, the concepts of this article apply to XML names as well ...

Good XML vocabulary design generally (not always) involves making
sure that human-language content is in element content, not in element
names and not in attributes  Or course, both HTML and RDF have got
this wrong, but tit is still a good principle.

Of course, you must also be able to read and enter the element names.

If XML had been developed in (say) Iran, and supported only the Arabic
right-to-left writing system for tags, even if the content could be in
Englsh, I don't think it would have much adoption in places like the
USA where the Latin alphabet is used.

By the way, or what it's worth, Verizon in Boston (USA), when I worked
there, was never able to give me Internet service.  They said it
was "a problem with your name".  I said my name appeared to be working
just fine thank you very much, but it seemed that they could not cope
with someone having a credit card on which their name had two middle

I have also encountered systems that could not cope with non-numeric
characters in telephone numbers, so "extension 36 and ask for Pat to
be paged" didn't work.  Or for systems that required you to say if
you are male or female, which for some (few than 1 in 1,000) people
isn't a yes/no question.

And I have a colleague whose last name uses more than 15 characters,
and often gets truncated to 15 characters by hotel reservation

It's not so long ago that I wa unable to book a flight because the Web
form at Continental Airlines gave me the page for a Canadian customer,
but required a 5-digit postcode.  Canadian postal codes have letters
in then as well as numbers.  So I tried 00000, and it turned out the
back end on the server checked you used the postal code for the city
of your credit card billing address... the postal code it wouldn't
let me enter... so I couldn't book the flight.  To their credit,
Continental were able to accept the booking over the phone after
a wait of an hour or so - they had to find a manual credit-card
swiper! -- and subsequntly contacted me to say they had fixed the

So yes, these short-sighted (aka "wrong") assumptions continue to bite.


Liam Quin, W3C XML Activity Lead, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/ * http://www.fromoldbooks.org/

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