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Re: What's wrong with namespaces? Some observations andsuggest

  • From: Michael Kay <mike@saxonica.com>
  • To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
  • Date: Sat, 04 Dec 2010 23:24:22 +0000

Re:  What's wrong with namespaces? Some observations andsuggest
On 04/12/2010 01:34, Amelia A Lewis wrote:
> Heyo.
>
> So, I've been (recently, publicly) critical of the Namespaces in XML
> specification.  My summary version: when I try to teach someone who
> doesn't care about XML about XML APIs, it's namespaces where they
> Boggle and Fall Down.

I agree with this analyssis.

Elements should have simple (string-valued) names, using hierarchic 
naming to achieve uniqueness, and context-sensitive abbreviation to 
achieve conciseness. It should always be legitimate to use the full name 
if abbreviation is not wanted.

Hierarchic naming: for example an element might be called 
:org.w3c.html.table.

Abbreviation: this might be abbreviated to "table". How is the 
abbreviated name resolved? Using the hierarchic name of the parent 
element. So the outermost element gives the full name

<:org.w3c.html.html>

and inner elements can use abbreviated names if they are in the same 
"namespace":

<:org.w3c.html.html>
<head>
<title>...</title>
</head>
<body>
<:org.w3c.svg.svg>
<rectangle>
            ....

Of course, this is hopelessly incompatible. Or is it? One could devise a 
transition mechanism. If we see something like

<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform" 
version="2.0">

then we could regard that as merely a quaint old-fashioned way of saying

<:org.w3c.www.1999.XSL.Transform.stylesheet version="2.0">

Hierarchic naming with optional abbreviation works so well across so 
many branches of computing, and indeed real life (for example phone 
numbers); it's a tragedy that it wasn't adopted from the start.

Michael Kay
Saxonica




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