W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org > April 2006

RE: Objection to Debate Scheduling

From: Mark Birbeck <mark.birbeck@x-port.net>
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 13:24:56 +0100
To: <Vincent.Quint@inrialpes.fr>
Cc: <www-tag@w3.org>, <djweitzner@w3.org>, <swick@w3.org>, <em@w3.org>, <ht@inf.ed.ac.uk>, <connolly@w3.org>, <steve@w3.org>, <schreiber@cs.vu.nl>, <dwood@tucanatech.com>, <public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org>, "'Ben Adida'" <ben@mit.edu>
Message-ID: <00eb01c6653e$99b21380$7e01a8c0@Jan>


Great to hear about the 'organisation of a discussion on a new topic',
albeit indirectly. But it seems an odd way to approach it--that 'the TF/WG
will be represented so that the issue is not misrepresented'. Perhaps the
seriousness of the problem that CURIEs is trying to solve hasn't been fully
conveyed, but regardless of RDFA and XHTML 2's need for CURIEs there is a
*serious* problem within W3C specifications in the promiscuous use of QNames
in places where they are inappropriate.

So, I would suggest that CURIEs is discussed in the context of the *already
existing* QName problem, and not as some kind of upstart looking to rock the
boat, and in that context I recommend to anyone who might be involved in
that discussion that they look at the references below.

The references break down roughly into two groups; the first group is of
comments that motivate the need for CURIEs, and that group includes my
original proposal. The second group are those that also address the problems
with using QNames as a mechanism for abbreviating URIs, which in broad
summary are:

 * there are URIs that cannot be abbreviated by
   using QNames;

 * QNames is a syntax for expressing XML elements
   and attributes, and not for expressing URIs. It
   is therefore inappropriate and confusing to use
   the 'object type' in other specifications as a
   way to scope things (e.g., XPath functions) or
   abbreviate URIs (e.g., RDF-related standards).

This second point is particularly important and in my view is the discussion
that the W3C in some form or another should be having; there are a many
situations that have absolutely nothing to do with XML that have adopted
QNames, and each time it is done it further muddies the waters.

To summarise:

 * a mechanism is needed in many different specs
   to abbreviate URIs that is independent of XML,
   and this mechanism should be able to cope with
   *all* URIs.

It would obviously be great if the W3C was able to coordinate the
standardisation of such a mechanism since a 'de facto' standard already
exists 'in the wild'...on Wikis, in server configuration files, in XPath
function names, in XML schema datatypes, in RDF/XML, in SPARQL, in WRL, and
so on. (See my blog entry below.) CURIEs is the proposal that I came up with
as part of a discussion with the IPTC (who have quite rightly forced this
issue onto the agenda) but it may not be the best one. The unfortunate thing
is that I haven't seen any other proposals to solve the QName issue yet.

Anyway, here are the links:

The proposal itself:


Motivation for it:


Explanation of how to get out of the QName-abuse problem by using CURIEs:


Norman Walsh replied to the second of the above two links saying that,
provided CURIEs use the same namespace prefix mechanism as QNames, his
concerns would be reduced (he still has other concerns though):


Observation that WRL has come to the same conclusion (that QNames are
inappropriate as a format for abbreviated URIs), and in place of QNames uses
'serialised QNames':


Comment by John Cowan saying that he has no problem with CURIEs:




Mark Birbeck
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e: Mark.Birbeck@x-port.net
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf-request@w3.org 
> [mailto:public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf-request@w3.org] On Behalf Of 
> Vincent Quint
> Sent: 21 April 2006 10:56
> To: Ben Adida
> Cc: Vincent.Quint@inrialpes.fr; www-tag@w3.org; 
> djweitzner@w3.org; swick@w3.org; em@w3.org; ht@inf.ed.ac.uk; 
> connolly@w3.org; steve@w3.org; schreiber@cs.vu.nl; 
> dwood@tucanatech.com; public-rdf-in-xhtml-tf@w3.org
> Subject: Re: Objection to Debate Scheduling
> Ben,
> I am sorry about the confusion. In scheduling this panel on 
> CURIEs for the AC meeting, the TAG is just trying to innovate 
> and organize a discussion on a new topic rather than giving 
> the usual talk on recent achievements and future plans. Our 
> decision was probably taken a bit late and the announcement 
> went to the first draft agenda of the AC meeting before we 
> could build the list of panelists; there is no name on the 
> draft agenda.
> In the mean time we have made progress.  My first concern was 
> to find a moderator for the panel, and this took time. We 
> have one since yesterday: Stuart Williams, former co-chair of 
> the TAG. I am working with him for establishing the list of 
> panelists and obviously we are considering people involved in 
> RDF/A work. It is too early to mention names in this public 
> message, but as soon as we have a first confirmed list of 
> panelists, I'll ask the AC meeting agenda to be updated.
> I am not sure that the details of the preparation of the AC 
> meeting is a topic of great interest for public mailing 
> lists. I suggest we continue this discussion in the 
> appropriate forum, but I want to make it clear that the TF/WG 
> will be represented on the panel, precisely to avoid 
> misrepresenting the issue.
> I hope this helps to clarify the situation.
> Sincerely,
> Vincent Quint
> TAG co-chair
> On Thu, 20 Apr 2006 23:04:23 -0400 Ben Adida <ben@mit.edu> wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > Members of the TAG,
> > 
> > In my capacity as chair of the RDF-in-HTML Task Force, a joint task 
> > force of the SWBP and HTML WGs responsible for the CURIE work-in- 
> > progress, I write to object to the CURIE debate scheduling at the 
> > upcoming May 2006 AC Meeting. I am particularly concerned 
> that, as a 
> > result of this problematic process, the debate will end up 
> > misrepresenting the issues and, thus, cause confusion rather than 
> > address interesting technical issues.
> > 
> > I note the following points:
> > 
> > 1) I became aware of this debate only after it was scheduled, by 
> > reading Steve Bratt's announcement to the AC reps.
> > 
> > 2) To the best of my knowledge, no one on the WG or TF was 
> notified of 
> > this debate prior to its announcement, let alone invited to 
> > participate. This morning, one week after the debate was scheduled, 
> > and only after I began to ask questions within the W3C, 
> Ralph Swick, 
> > team member and TF/WG member, was invited to moderate.
> > 
> > 3) To the best of my knowledge, the WG or TF has not been asked to 
> > submit information regarding CURIEs to help prime the debate. Note 
> > that CURIEs are still a work in progress, and debating them 
> based on 
> > editors' drafts without the TF's input would be clearly suboptimal.
> > 
> > CURIEs would make a good discussion topic, and I welcome the TAG's 
> > interest. However, to discuss the topic without input from the Task 
> > Force responsible for the proposal seems improper and counter- 
> > productive.
> > 
> > As this debate has already been announced, as the issue merits 
> > discussion, and as I do not wish to be a stickler for process when 
> > such rigor might obstruct a useful technical discussion, I am *not* 
> > asking that this debate be cancelled. Instead, I am asking that you 
> > consider direct participation from members of the Task Force in 
> > presenting the driving motivation and issues to the AC reps.
> > 
> > I also ask that, in the future, closely-involved TFs and WGs be 
> > notified before such public debates are scheduled.
> > 
> > Sincerely,
> > 
> > -Ben Adida
> > ben@mit.edu
> > Chair, RDF-in-HTML Task Force
> > 
> > 
> --------------
> Vincent Quint                       INRIA Rhône-Alpes
> INRIA                               ZIRST
> e-mail: Vincent.Quint@inria.fr      655 avenue de l'Europe
> Tel.: +33 4 76 61 53 62             Montbonnot
> Fax:  +33 4 76 61 52 07             38334 Saint Ismier Cedex
>                                     France
Received on Friday, 21 April 2006 12:26:12 UTC

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