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Re: Registered Namespace prefixes

why do we use prefixes
On Thursday 06 March 2003 08:54 pm, Jeff Lowery wrote:
> 1) eliminate the need to resolve namespace prefixes
> 	-- simplifies tools
> 	-- reduces mistakes
> 	-- avoids overhead
> 2) eliminates any need to preserve prefix/nsID pairs during roundtrip
> processing of documents

OK. We're in violent agreement on this.

> "But a registry is overhead!" I hear you shouting.   True, but namespace
> prefix resolution mechanisms in tools are also overhead.

Sure. I'd get rid of both ;-)

> Now, I'm not going to say that the way namespaces are now is a damning
> burden to bear

Neither would I, but I debate their value.

> > if you and I have a convention to use foo: prefixes in our data
> > interchange, why
> > should we care if some other party uses it?
> First of all, basing any logic on ns prefixes (as they exist now) is a
> risky deal, convention or no.

That's not what I was talking about. Essentially, what I was saying is that in 
order for us to communicate effectively, we have to have some agreement on 
the vocabulary being used. That means agreeing on the interpretation of a 
specific set of tags/attributes/PI's etc. Now, assuming, for the purposes of 
*our* communication, we use foo:bar, foo:baz, foo:qux, what do we care if 
someone else used foo:bar, *unless* we plan to interact with them, in which 
case, we'll either negotiate a common set of markup, or a means to translate 
from our local convention, to *their* convention. If enough people care about 
a particular topic, they'll define a common vocabulary for an entire 

In all of the above, namespaces, prefixes, and registries play little role 
until you get to a point of standardization, and even then, *global* 
registries are not really necessary.

> Second of all, we do care (most of us anyway) about the associative
> integrity of a namespace id.  Think not?  Most namespace ids are based on
> URLs with domain names at their root.  

I debate the implied assertion here. Most namespace ids have domain names in 
them because URL's do. Note that I do *not* debate the role of associativity 
of vocabularies... it's obvious that people in the healthcare industry are 
far more likely to trust a specification *from* their community than they are 
from the associatio of bandsaw manufacturers. That has nothing to do with the 
namespace id or the use of URI's there.

> Again, even with convention, doing this with 'unregistered' prefixes is
> risky business, IMO.  

That depends very much on the goal of the markup. If you are planning for 
widespread interchange, you may well be right... but at that level, the 
prefix is probably less important that the tag set used for interchange.


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