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Section 6 (esp 6.1)

From: David Brownell <db@argon.Eng.Sun.COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 10:18:05 -0700
Message-Id: <199809141718.KAA19955@argon.eng.sun.com>
To: xml-names-issues@w3.org
Section 6.1 on "The Insufficiency of the Traditional Namespace"
seems rather broken.

Since I've had occasion to study the "traditional" notions of naming
in computer systems rather extensively, I was amused to be told there
that they don't handle the problems being identified.  It was clearly
incorrect, and caused needless confusion.

Names are "traditionally" composed of a context (sometimes implied)
and a name.  Two names (e.g. "High Street") are distinguished by
context (e.g. "Bath" vs. "London").  Contexts are often named, and
if so have contexts.  ("Bath" in "Maine, USA" vs in "UK".)

The assumption in 6.1 is that there is no such thing as a context
in traditional naming within computer systems, which is very wrong.

The notion of context is in fact quite fundamental, and is clearly
present even in the first example there.  Only by removing that
notion (discarding the "attribute of author" or "element" contexts)
can that example be made comprehensible.  Even the XML spec doesn't
support such usage, since the contexts for attribute and element
names are clearly critical when validating.

(The word "namespace" is used in several different ways, and usually
means no more than which syntax is used to represent names in a given
context.  For example, integers vs words; or X.500 vs DNS.  The latter
two bundle syntaxes for context names, and can be combined in namespaces
such as those allowed for email addresses.)

I think that what "Section 6" wants to say is that while XML documents
originally had two types of contexts (one for the element names, and
for each element one context of attribute names) this is felt to be an
insufficient data model in that 

    (a) multiple element name contexts are desired, and
    (b) attribute name contexts shared between elements are desired

This merits fixing, perhaps most expediently by deleting 6.1 and becoming
clear on the two goals noted above.

- Dave

p.s. If desirable, I should be able to shake loose a good reference on
    "traditional" naming in computer science, which could be put into
    the references.
Received on Monday, 14 September 1998 13:20:51 UTC

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