W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-ietf-xmldsig@w3.org > October to December 1999

Re: Latest draft and Schema / DTD

From: Winchel 'Todd' Vincent, III <Winchel@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 11:29:22 -0500
Message-ID: <00a101bf2d2b$14615530$0a01a8c0@pabdec300ntw>
To: "Joseph M. Reagle Jr." <reagle@w3.org>, "Donald E. Eastlake 3rd" <dee3@torque.pothole.com>
Cc: "IETF/W3C XML-DSig WG" <w3c-ietf-xmldsig@w3.org>, "leg-xml-l" <leg-xml-l@gsulaw.gsu.edu>, <timbl@w3.org>

> At 00:37 99/11/12 -0500, Donald E. Eastlake 3rd wrote:
>  >I didn't understand that you were going to totally banish DTDs.
>  >
>  >As far as I know, there are essentially no tools that process the
>  >current W3C Schema draft.  I think that DTDs will be the dominant
>  >description of XML for validation, etc., for at least a year to 18
>  >months and will continue to be very useful for at least five to ten
>  >years.  Under these circumstances dropping DTDs entirely from the
>  >draft greatly reduces its value is a real dis-service to the
>  >community.

> DTDs simply do not permit us to do what we would like to do [1],


This is very problematic.

Who is "we" -- (www.xml.com)? [your cite] or the W3C? -- and what is it that
"we" would like to do, exactly?

This is, frankly, a very radical departure from the general message that has
been sent to (or, at least, received by) the public since the publication of
XML 1.0 in early 1998.  I'm not an "insider" and I don't/can't cover every
XML list and publication.  Yes, I've heard about XML's limitations,
especially with respect to datatyping.  And, I've been doing a lot of
thinking and asking a lot of questions about how XML documents with more
than one namespace can be validated, because separate namespaces are
extremely important to legal documents (Legal XML,

Let me be more specific.  Over the last two years, I've spent a lot of time
trying to learn XML 1.0 and XML techniques and trying to fit what I've
learned into the Legal XML "domain."  I've also been advocating to many
people that XML and DTDs are the appropriate technology for legal document

Now, if I understand correctly, you are saying that using XML DTDs to
validate XML documents is the wrong way to go (contrary to the message of
the last two years) and now I (and everyone else) have to switch to XML
schemas and use the phantom tools that exists to make it happen.  What about
all the tools people have created and are creating to validate XML documents
using DTDs?   Is there some W3C positon paper that was well-advertised that
I simply haven't read?  If so, please point me in the right direction?

> and our XML
> will be used in many circumstances that will not XML validate anyway.

Who is "our"?

Examples of the "many circumstances" please.

I assume you will produce examples, so let me add, what about those people
who like the idea of SGML and valid documents?  Does this mean the W3C is
abandoning valid XML?  Please recall, SGML and valid SGML documents based on
DTDs have been around for 20 years.  As I understood it, the idea of XML 1.0
was to simplify SGML to bring the SGML philosophy to the massses.  No one
ever said the idea of XML 1.0 was to throw away 20 years of SGML philosophy,
experience, and software and replace it with XML schemas.

> In the
> XML context TimBL has suggested that this activity among others use
> [2].
> I'd ask that we keep the schema declarations I've used in the draft we are
> working on until we post it early next week and the WG can discuss it.

Is the use of schemas mandated in the XML-Signatures "Requirements" document
and/or is the "Requirements" document going to be amended?  Is this up for a
vote or is it simply going to be done?  Does the W3C consensus policy apply?
I thought the "Requirements" document was stable.  I do not recall a
requirement that either XML schemas or RDF be used for the core
XML-Signature syntax, although there was mention that where possible,
XML-Signature syntax would not be inconsisent with RDF data models.  Please
correct me if I am wrong.

Indeed, at the face-to-face meeting in Irvine, someone commented that it was
not appropriate to require implementers to learn and code RDF and other new
W3C creations and that such a requirment and its attendant complexity would
inhibit implementation.  This argument, I believe, applies to XML schemas as
well.  There is only so much one can learn and implement in a year!!

During the second to last telephone conference, you (Joseph) *suggested*
that we try to put the XML-Signature syntax into an XML schema to see what
it would look like and asked for volunteers.  But, no one said or ever
suggested we were replacing DTDs with schemas.  Was this a coup in the
making?  Is it OK for chairs to have and act on agendas that do not reflect
the consensus of the WG?  What am I missing?

I believe a much better explanation is in order not simply with respect to
the XML-Signatures WG, but with respect to the direction of the W3C now and
in the future.

Please understand and contemplate carefully the message you are sending to
the general public -- the 98% of the people who are not W3C and XML
"insiders."   If, just as XML (valid XML based on DTDs) is taking off, the
W3C somewhat arbitrarily switches gears, then what confidence does anyone
have that two years down the road the W3C won't switch to something else?
Forgive me for being less-than-brilliant, but if this is going to work for
the world, then it must reach a level of simplicity close to HTML --
simplicity, after all, is one of the main reasons for HTML's success.

Tell me, please, what "we" would like to do and we will do it, but please
provide some clarity and long-term direction so that the other "we"s can
begin to create intellegent, long-term technical standards for "our"


> [1] http://xml.com/pub/1999/07/schemas/dtds.html
> [2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/chairs/1999OctDec/0023.html

> Message-ID: <011101bf2af1$79e15a40$e5061812@ridge.w3.org>
> From: "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>
> To: <chairs@w3.org>
> Cc: "xml-dev" <xml-dev@ic.ac.uk>, <w3c-xml-plenary@w3.org>
> Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1999 15:31:59 -0500
> Subject: Schemas coming of age: use them
> Agenda item for chairs meeting:
> As I have mentioned in various fora including the AC meeting, xml schemas
> are coming of age.  It is no longer appropriate for a W3C activity to say
> "well, we won't use them because they aren't here yet". They are here --
> there are drafts which you can read and use.
> It is now appropriate for any group developing a W3C xml application (such
> as P3P, xHTML, etc) to use namespaces and schemas.  These should be seen
> the first, very important, test cases for schema: if xml-schema language
> won't do what you want it to do, then get it fixed.
> Working across more groups takes time but it leads to a consistent result.
> Let's  make sure everything fits together at this stage!
> Keep up the good work, everyone.
> Tim
> _________________________________________________________
> Joseph Reagle Jr.
> Policy Analyst           mailto:reagle@w3.org
> XML-Signature Co-Chair   http://www.w3.org/People/Reagle/
Received on Friday, 12 November 1999 11:33:59 UTC

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