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Re: Foreign Names

  • From: Paul Prescod <paul@p...>
  • To: "XML-DEV (E-mail)" <xml-dev@x...>
  • Date: Sun, 23 Apr 2000 13:29:12 -0500

elements foreign names
This isn't quite painful enough yet. Let's switch from pedant-mode to

Tim Bray wrote:
> ... 
>  One can have an immensely amusing argument as to whether the Name that
>  appears in start- and end-tags (and also empty-element tags, as the spec
>  (tsk, tsk) doesn't say) is the type of the element, or whether the 
> element's type is an abstract metaphysical what-not which is named by the 
> type.

How can a name *be* a type??? Don't names always have to stand in for
something? That which is named?

I see three points of view here:

 * the thing that is named is abstract and metaphysical. Element type
declarations allow the computer to know about these pre-existing

 * the thing that is named lives in some concrete data model. "Element
type declarations" generate them and "undeclared elements" have implied
element type declarations.

 * nothing is named. We just use the "name" production because it has
the syntax we want.

The only view that makes sense across all W3C specifications is the
third one. Many people wanted to mantain the first two views but over
time the link between the string in the tag and any well-defined concept
of "type" has become more and more tenuous. 

 * well-formed documents allow the types to go without declaration at
 * namespaces/schemas require the type to be figured out through an
algorithm involving the name in the tag and attributes hanging around
 * neither DOM 1 or 2 give us any way to get from elements to their
 * the information set also does not give us a well-defined way to get
from an element to its type object

I wish that the information set was complete so that we could have a
canonical answer to this question. 

Nevertheless, the strong indication of the various specification is that
XML 1.0 is itself wrong. After all, XML 1.0 and namespaces are more or
less in conflict about the mapping from names to "things" and namespaces
are considered more canonical by the people developing specifications.

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for himself
It's difficult to extract sense from strings, but they're the only
communication coin we can count on. 
	- http://www.cs.yale.edu/~perlis-alan/quotes.html

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