Message-ID: <3778F481.D21B3138@prescod.net> Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 12:29:53 -0400 From: Paul Prescod <email@example.com> To: Paul Grosso <firstname.lastname@example.org> CC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Subject: locator syntax, resources, etc. Paul Grosso suggests deleting all locator syntax discussion from the working draft. I agree that there is no reason for that syntax to be there, but I think that we do need to talk more about locators because we need to define formally and finally what it is that they locate. It is not the case that the things addressed by XPointers are resources. If they were resources, they would have URIs and not "URI references." They are, at best, sub-resources. Unfortunately the word sub-resource is not well-defined. "Sub-resource" certainly is not defined in "Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI): Generic Syntax". It talks only of "fragments" and "fragment identifiers." The semantics of the fragment identifier syntax are left entirely up to the reader. It is not even necessarily the case that they identify addressable objects. One could imagine a fragment identifier that says what stylesheet to use or (in the SMIL case) what seconds of a movie to show. In other words, a fragment identifier could describe behavior instead of describing a location. It is arguably the case that HTML fragment identifiers are most often used for describing behavior not a location. Are we really going to allow XLinks to resources like: http://my.media.com/myMedia.mxl#show_with_blue_background() ? And should such a link be recorded in the big book of links as semantically different than a link to http://my.media.com/myMedia.mxl#show_with_red_background() ? I propose that we restrict the set of useful fragment identifiers to those that address objects or lists of objects. The definition of "object" is "item defined by an information set." RDF abolishes the words "sub-resource" and "fragment". It treats resource as if it encompassed both resources and sub-resources. It says: "A resource may be a part of a Web page; e.g. a specific HTML or XML element within the document source." This is clearly not what the URI RFC says. RDF also uses the term "anchor id" where URI uses the term "fragment id". In other words, RDF ignores the fact that the word fragment is not defined and in general uses terminology that does not come from the URI specification. RDF and XLink should use the same definition for addressable objects but it is too late to fix RDF. RDF would, in fact, allow properties to be assigned to show_with_blue_background() versus show_with_red_background() even if the creators of those fragment identifiers did not intend them to be separate objects. This example is fanciful but there are real-world ones also: XPointer's range does not define an object or object list in an information set. The proposed SMIL second identifier has the same problem unless there is one day a SMIL information set where seconds are nodes. To make this concrete, imagine that you are using XSL or your favorite stylesheet language. You invoke a method called "GetXLinkAnchors()". What do you get back? A list of *what*? I claim that it should be a list of nodes. It should not be possible to claim to link to things that do not have a concept of node because it isn't logically possible to link to something that doesn't have a well-defined concept of identity. -- Paul Prescod - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for only himself http://itrc.uwaterloo.ca/~papresco "The new revolutionaries believe the time has come for an aggressive move against our oppressors. We have established a solid beachhead on Friday. We now intend to fight vigorously for 'casual Thursdays.' -- who says America's revolutionary spirit is dead?