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XLink (explanation)

From: Simon St.Laurent <simonstl@simonstl.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 11:45:49 -0400
Message-Id: <199904121543.LAA14923@hesketh.net>
To: <www-style@w3.org>
I had a private email asking for an explanation of what XLink is before we
go charging into a discussion of why it demands support from style sheets.

XLink is an XML-based tool for connecting resources together that is
presently under development at the W3C.  XLink builds on XML - all links
are expressed in XML, though they may point to non-XML resources.  XLink
moves well beyond the simple point-to-point linking provided in HTML,
supporting features like links between multiple points and links that are
specified outside of the resources they link.  (Among other things, this
can get you out of the suffering of searching through 200 files to correct
a changed link.)  XLink can also be used to include fragments of documents
(referenced with XPointers, also under development) within documents that
link to them.  It's much more than <A HREF="" TARGET="">.  XLink lets _any_
element be a link, identifying links through the use of attributes rather
than fixed element names like A.

This extra power isn't all inside of XLink, however.  Important issues,
like presentation and decisions about what traversal paths exist within a
set of resources, have been left open, pretty much with the expectation
that the style sheet folks will figure out how to cope with them.  

The current working draft of XLink (http://www.w3.org/TR/WD-xlink) is over
a year old, though a new requirements document
(http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-xlink-req) appeared in February.  It is unclear
how much change the XLink draft will undergo before finally becoming a
recommendation (assuming it in fact does become a Rec someday.)

In any case, this exciting new technology needs some help, and it might be
good to start thinking about these issues now.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer
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Received on Monday, 12 April 1999 11:43:50 UTC

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