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Re: null namespace Re: Next steps for the ARIA syntax discussion

From: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 20:26:25 +0000
Cc: "www-tag@w3.org" <www-tag@w3.org>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>, "public-xhtml2@w3.org" <public-xhtml2@w3.org>, "wai-xtech@w3.org" <wai-xtech@w3.org>
Message-Id: <F19AB985-9EB5-4BFA-BBBA-133AD759F8CC@robburns.com>
To: "Charles McCathieNevile" <chaals@opera.com>

Hi Charles,

On May 21, 2008, at 11:53 AM, Charles McCathieNevile wrote:

> On Fri, 16 May 2008 12:07:43 +0200, Robert J Burns  
> <rob@robburns.com> wrote:
>
>> You also mention the null namespace in this email in the context of
>> helping authors. The proliferation of the null namespace is  in my
>> view  a misinterpretation of the namespaces recommendation that
>> already causes some of the same headaches you describe in your
>> critique of TAG. In my view the null namespace should not exist in a
>> namespaced document processed by a namespace aware application.
>
> It results from a misinterpretation. People naively assumed that  
> what you would like to have (attributes inherit the namespace of the  
> element they are attached to unless otherwise declared), but that  
> isn't what the spec says. The consequence is something near a decade  
> of null namespaces in a few widely used specifications.

The spec actually says it both ways (as null URI and according to the  
element they are attached to). And implementors followed the  
inappropriate way the spec describes (perhaps not anticipating the  
problems it would create). I seriously doubt correcting that mistake  
in current implementations would lead to serious problems. However,  
correcting it would make things work much easier for authors and  
authoring tool developers. Though I guess you're right correcting it  
now would break existing XML content. My point was that we do not want  
to repeat the same mistakes of XML in introducing prefixes, or full-on  
namespaces to HTML5.

> So like it or not, the null namespace is here to stay. Changing this  
> now would cause untold havoc in existing content, and while it would  
> be nice if the spec did what it seems most people assume it would,  
> coping with what it actually says isn't really very difficult.

No, the spec says two different things and implementors went with the  
wrong one. Why that is I don't know, but one probably led the way and  
the others followed. I understand changing it now would be a problem,  
but its not a matter of wanting the spec to say something else. The  
spec in fact does say something else.

> I do not think it is worth trying to change now - because to be  
> honest I don't see it causing massive problems. (Yes, people make  
> mistakes from time to time due to this - and I made mine very  
> publicly :(, but equally they can still learn in about 3 minutes,  
> and it seems that they do).

No, I think it is a major headache for authoring situations. Again, we  
have reversed the priority of constituencies here as we so often do in  
this WG. It should be users, then authors, and then implementations.  
Of course getting a group largely controlled by implementation  
developers leaves that largely up to the honor system.

Take care,
Rob
Received on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 20:27:21 GMT

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