W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > xml-uri@w3.org > May 2000

Namespace names: a semi-serious proposal

From: Paul W. Abrahams <abrahams@valinet.com>
Date: Fri, 26 May 2000 13:42:03 -0400
Message-ID: <392EB76B.EFC8C4B4@valinet.com>
To: xml-uri@w3.org
OK, the folks who brought the namespace spec into the world
are of one voice: namespace names don't mean anything.  They
are just unique identifiers.

So let's make the connotation match the denotation.  Let W3C
set up a website that dispenses unique integers to all
comers, no matter how nefarious or trivial their purpose.
You ask for one and you get one.  Service on the spot, no
questions asked.   In fact, you can get 10**12 of them at a
shot if you wish.   As far as I know there is no imminent
shortage of integers, though for the sake of ecology we
might wish to use the Base64 notation or hexadecimal instead
of decimal.

The value of the xmlns attribute, i.e., the namespace name,
is then a unique integer, obtained from the source from
which such blessings flow.  The creator of the namespace can
decide if a new version is sufficiently similar to a
previous one to warrant a new number.   It then is
abundantly clear that a namespace name conveys no
information whatsoever.

In fact, there's no need even to restrict the dispensation
of unique integers to a single source.  Anyone can get into
the business as long as they themselves get a unique integer
as their business card, and prefix the integers they
dispense with their own ID and some appropriate delimiter.
Any cad who sends the same integer to two people will
deserve the same fate as that old Monty Python character who
distributed fake Hungarian-English lexicons to Hungarian
tourists in London.

Maybe the integer dispenser already exists.  If it doesn't,
it should.  It obviously has many uses.

Paul Abrahams
Received on Friday, 26 May 2000 13:47:38 UTC

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