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Re: Media types

From: Edwin Ortega <ortegae@wns.net>
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 13:24:38 -0800
Message-ID: <008a01c19ed4$36630940$32a2583f@val6000>
To: "Mark Baker <distobj" <distobj@acm.org>, "Noah Mendelsohn" <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
Cc: "www-tag" <www-tag@w3.org>, "xml-dist-app" <xml-dist-app@w3.org>

----- Original Message -----
From: "Noah Mendelsohn" <noah_mendelsohn@us.ibm.com>
To: "Mark Baker <distobj" <distobj@acm.org>
Cc: "www-tag" <www-tag@w3.org>; "xml-dist-app" <xml-dist-app@w3.org>
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2002 11:53 AM
Subject: Re: Media types

> Mark Baker writes:
> >> If you buy TimBL's argument that the container
> >> specifies the meaning of containment (as I do), then
> >> the root container specifies the root meaning and
> >> that's the only place you can start in trying to
> >> construct the "whole meaning".
> I  buy this sometimes, but not always.  To some extent it's a matter of
> degree:  even if the root is where you start, it may not tell you enough
> the whole meaning to be interesting.   See below.
> >> To use your example, only because we know what the SOAP
> >> envelope means, do we know that the body should be
> >> processed as a purchase order (and that's assuming that
> >> there are no unknown mustUnderstand declarations).
> Yes, in XML the semantics typically follows the lexical hierarchy, and so
> the outermost element gives you your "first stop" in figuring out with the
> document means.  The problem is that, in the case of SOAP, the
> specification is essentially delegating much of the designation of meaning
> to a more deeply nested part of the document:  The <SOAP> element
> just says, "I'll tell you something about a generic processing model that
> can be used with this document, but I won't really tell you what this
> document is."  It's sort of like saying:  "this is XML" as opposed to
> is XHTML".  Both are useful, but it seems appropriate to have a MIME type
> for XHTML, as well as for XML (and I presume we use xhtml+xml).   By the
> same reasoning, it's potentially useful to have MIME types for specific
> applications of SOAP.
> Indeed one could argue that with SOAP's current definition of body
> processing, there is no generally applicable means of inspecting the
> document or body and determining its purpose (in the sense of being a
> Purchase Order).  That's because in the new 1.2 draft [1] we allow an
> arbitrary number of body element children, and we' don't say whether in
> general they represent separate similar units of work (e.g. multiple
> purchase orders), one unit of work (a purchase order + supporting data),
> one unit of work modified by another (purchase order + improved purchase
> order ehancements), multiple unrelated (purchase order + open new
> etc.  So not even a general hierarchical name (e.g.
> would handle all cases, but it would help for many.
> Overall:  I'm questioning whether it's necessary or practical to impose
> fixed relationship between the internal structure documents in general, or
> even hierarchical formats such as XML,  and the corresponding MIME type
> names.  In the case of XML vs particular XML vocabularies, RFC 3023 [2]
> makes clear that there is no such requirement:
>       "XML generic processing is not always
>        appropriate for XML-based media types.
>        For example, authors of some such media
>        types may wish that the types remain
>        entirely opaque except to applications
>        that are specifically designed to deal
>        with that media type.  By NOT following
>        the naming convention '+xml', such media
>        types can avoid XML-generic processing."
> Surely the same latitude should be available when using SOAP?  I think
> the sender that knows the intention of the document, regardless of its
> structure.    If I label something with a MIME type, it should be because
> believe the document conforms to the specification for that MIME type,
> which might or might not key primarily on the outermost element
> (admittedly, it is likely to at least involve the outermost element).
> With due respect to Tim, why do we have to go further than that?  The fact
> that XML is hierarchical is an accident from the point of view of MIME
> types, I think, and not all users of XML do their heavy lifting in the
> element.  If I want to invent some "purchaseOrdrer" (or graphics, or web
> page, or whatever) MIME type  that just happens to be wrapped in a
> semi-transparent XML envelope like SOAP, is that a bad usage of MIME?
> short, I think the hierarchical view of an XML document only goes so far
> semantically.  Making it easy to key on the root element or to involve the
> root element in a hiearchical name is a good thing, because it's a common
> idiom.  Requiring that MIME types be based only or primarily on the root
> element (or any other single construct in the document), seems more
> questionable.
> I therefore propose:
> a) users be free to propose new MIME types of any structure for particular
> sorts of SOAP documents (I.e. no requirement to use soap+xml or ...+xml).
> This is the analog of the freedom accorded to those creating MIME types
> XML vocabularies.
> b) a recommendation to use soap+xml in the common case where the only
> intention is to convey the "SOAPness" of the document.
> c) maybe a suggestion that in cases where there is a particular use of
> SOAP, or else uses that can be well modelled hierarchically, that a
> convention such as purchaseOrder+soap+xml.... be used.  I don't see this
> prohibited by RFC 3023, but this convention goes beyond SOAP, and so
> be debated first by those responsible for the MIME type RFCs.
> >> <not xmlns="foo">
> >>  <banana xmlns="bar">
> >> </not>
> >> Is that a banana?
> Well, it really depends on the specification that describes the document
> a whole.  If "foo:not" is defined to be a more or less transparent,
> semantics-free envelope construct, then I would say this is (or might well
> be) a banana.  Surely your intention was that the spec for "foo:not" in
> fact conveys the semantic: "I am negating the definition of what I
> contain".  So, even there, it's an interesting question whether this is
> best described as a "not" document, or a "not banana" document.
> Having said all that, I should admit that my experience with compound
> documents in general is far deeper than my knowledge of MIME types and
> their typical use.  Apologies if I am missing something obvious.  Thank
> you.
> [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/soap12-part1/#structinterpbodies
> [2] http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3023.txt
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Noah Mendelsohn                                    Voice: 1-617-693-4036
> IBM Corp.                                          Fax: 1-617-693-8676
> One Rogers Street
> Cambridge, MA 02142
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
Received on Wednesday, 16 January 2002 12:42:06 UTC

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