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Validating data-* attributes in XHTML5?

Preamble (if you prefer, skip to the "Question(s)" heading):

I am lagging (years) behind in my knowledge of HTML5 - I have been fixated 
on XHTML 1.0 Strict compliance - but I am trying to catch up.

Someone (thank you, Chris!) recently pointed out to me that HTML5 allows 
attributes named data-* (for example, data-atlassian-layout).

I had observed the use of data-* attributes by various applications, but 
the news of the inclusion of these attributes in the HTML5 spec frankly 
blindsided me (I did say I was far behind).

As mentioned in a recent thread on this mailing list, I have developed a 
DTD and XSDs (W3C XML Schema 1.0) for an XML vocabulary that consists of a 
combination of:
- Proprietary elements and their attributes, and
- Elements that have the same name as elements in XHTML (so far, 
exclusively from XHTML 1.0; and - until now, hence this email - with 
attributes that are a subset of the attributes allowed in XHTML 1.0 

This XML vocabulary is evolving. The developers have begun using a 
data-atlassian-layout attribute on div elements.

I have added corresponding explicit definitions for this new attribute to 
the DTD and XSD (for that particular target namespace). But it's raised 
some questions in my mind.


It occurs to me that HTML5 allowing data-* attributes means that any given 
XHTML5 document instance cannot be validated using a fixed, standard XML 
DTD or W3C XML Schema 1.0 (or 1.1, for that matter) document (XSD). 
Because (to my knowledge), DTDs and XSDs require you to explicitly specify 
attribute names; you cannot, in these particular schema languages, define 
attributes with wildcarded names. If an XHTML5 document instance contains 
data-* attributes, then, if you want to use a DTD or an XSD to validate 
it, the DTD or XSD must explicitly define those particular data-* 
attribute names (data-this, data-that; not just data-*). Correct?

Effectively the same point/question, stated slightly differently... With 
XHTML 1.0, one could use a standard DTD/XSD from W3C, unmodified, to 
validate all XHTML 1.0 document instances. It seems to me that you will 
not be able to use a single, standard DTD/XSD from W3C to validate all 
XHTML5 document instances. You'll need to define any data-* attributes. 

I imagine that the reaction of many readers will be (a more erudite 
version of) "Well, d'uh! Have you been living under a rock?" I've Googled, 
but have so far not found any rock-solid ;-) answers to this specific 

Are there any other aspects of XHTML5 that introduce new* problems for 
validating with DTD/XSDs?

* Specifically, compared to validating XHTML 1.0 with DTD/XSDs? (I do not 
seek an answer that covers *all* of the shortcomings of these two schema 
languages - such as the inability to describe various kinds of constraints 
- although I understand that some of these shortcomings are likely to be 
closely tied to the problems with validating XHTML5 versus validating 
XHTML 1.0.)

I am aware of http://html5.validator.nu/ and its associated 
http://about.validator.nu/, and I am learning (for example, about Relax 

Graham Hannington
Perth, Western Australia

Fundi Software Pty Ltd  2012  ABN 89 009 120 290

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