W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > html-future@w3.org > May 1998

Thoughts on links and external references

From: Daniel B. Austin <daniela@cnet.com>
Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 11:07:15 -0700
Message-Id: <199805211812.LAA03904@central.cnet.com>
To: html-future@w3.org

	One thought that occurs to me, as we consider the task of dividing HTML into
modular 'parts' as was discussed at the conference, concerns references to
resources. It seems to me that both hypertext links and inline replaced
such as IMG, OBJECT, etc. as well as LINK (for stylesheets and scripts) are
cases of the same sort of object. In fact they are all references of one
kind or  
another to resources outside the body of the document. In some cases,
of the link occurs automagically (IMGs, LINKs) and the resource referenced is 
embedded in the current display, in other cases the entire display is
by the new resource and user action is required for traversal. 
	Given the problems that are being encountered in the matter of associating
external references such as stylesheets with documents and the fundamentally 
similar nature of all of these external refernces, whose differences are
matters of implementation (ie the responsibility of the user agent) I'd
like to propose
a means of resolving the problem.
	Why not consider all of these external references to be of the same type,
and use the XLINK/XPOINTER formalism as the HTML 'component' that handles 
these structures in our online documents? This would have several advantages:
* leveraging work already done (reduction to a problem already solved) by
the XLL
WG, saving lots of work and hair loss
* we could use a one very rich and powerful XML based mechanism for all
* we would have a standard solution for future cases of 'embedded' content,
perhaps extending to the simplified inclusion of mathML & similar markup
in HTML documents
* this proposal would unify and clarify a large subset of highly desirable
HTML functionality.
* we could probably do this with few changes to existing markup (but with
* this idea fits in well with our current ideas of 'modularizing' HTML 

To sum up, my proposal is to replace all external resource references in
HTML documents
with XML links via the (forthcoming) XLINK/XPOINTER standard.

I've deliberately chosen not to present this argument in terms of 'external
entity references'
ala SGML because I believe this terminology obscures the overall concept
being proposed here.
Commentary, flames, and feedback are respectfully requested.


Received on Thursday, 21 May 1998 14:12:27 UTC

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