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html-in-xml=19990304: DOCTYPE subverts namespace

From: Ralph R. Swick <swick@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 09:01:06 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: www-html-editor@w3.org
Re: http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WD-html-in-xml-19990304

I am puzzled by a design choice made in the XHTML definition.  The
document places a lot of emphasis on modularizing HTML yet this
seems to be principally for the purpose of subsetting HTML.

One of the promises of XML with namespaces is that modularization
also permits semantics to be collected from multiple namespaces
and combined within a single document.  The XHTML specification
as written specifically disallows this option.  I am disappointed
by this choice; for example, it means that I cannot use XHTML
and MathML together in one Strictly Conforming document as that
term is defined in 3.1.

I strongly urge that the DOCTYPE declaration be made optional.
The presence of the xmlns attribute is sufficient to meet the
need described in 5.1.1 that a processor be able to recognize
the specific semantics of [parts of] the document.

I wonder how the current specification can claim to conform to
XML well-formedness without the <?xml version="1.0"?> declaration.
I can understand why from a backwards compatibility point of view
you would choose to make this declaration optional.  But I would
encourage you to add to the specification some explanatory text
as to whether this omission is only a transition strategy or
whether it is a longer-term architectural decision with requirements
that are to be passed along to the XML work.

Received on Tuesday, 30 March 1999 09:01:13 UTC

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