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Re: [xml-dev] What's wrong with namespaces? Some observations andsuggestions

On Fri, 2010-12-03 at 20:34 -0500, Amelia A Lewis wrote:

> So.  Herewith, some strongly opinionated judgments as to what's wrong 
> with namespaces:

Amy - I, too, spend a lot of time explaining namespaces to people.
I agree they stink.

But I also don't see much consensus on
(1) is the disruption of change worth any benefits of improving them?
(2) what exactly should be done differently?
(3) a clear story on compatibility and moving forward if there's change.

If enough rich paying Members :-) come to W3C and demand it, for sure
we'll consider work on an XML 2.0 or whatever.  But for now, my own
feeling is that there's much more mileage in improving APIs (which is
why I thought your talk at Balisage was so good) -- that's always
been XML's weakest area, APIs and data binding, getting XML into a
program and manipulating it.  XPath isn't the total answer since
it doesn't have constructors, and, like XQuery, goes wonky with
the default namespace and with elements in no namespace.

The most common questions I hear are actually like this:
Person: why doesn't my XPath expression match anything?
Me: because the elements in the document are in a namespace
Person: how do I match them then?
Me: I can't answer that unless you tell me more about your environment,
because there's no standard way. You can use local-name() and... er...
hello? come back! Your system documentation should tell you how to
bind a namespace URI to a prefix...
Person: if it does I can't find it...
etc etc.

Which boils down to a mix of a stupid deficiency in XPath (no binding
expressions) and a difficulty with APIs.  But then the next most common
dialogue involves APIs, or people thinking XML and DOM must always go
together and that therefore XML is slow/clunky/ugly/ponderous/...,
when really it's just that DOM is one of the more poorly designed ways
to work with XML on the planet (and came from the HTML world as a
compromise between vendors...)

The way forward is probably to come up with some cleaner interfaces,
to promote the jQuery XPath plugin, and to work on interop with json.


Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/
Ankh: irc.sorcery.net irc.gnome.org www.advogato.org

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