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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 

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


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


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" 

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

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