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Fwd: XML namespaces on the Web

From: Simon Pieters <simonp@opera.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 15:38:17 +0100
To: "public-xml-core-wg@w3.org" <public-xml-core-wg@w3.org>
Message-ID: <op.u3hr93jlidj3kv@zcorpandell.linkoping.osa>

------- Forwarded message -------
From: "Anne van Kesteren" <annevk@opera.com>
To: "HTML WG" <public-html@w3.org>
Subject: XML namespaces on the Web
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 14:32:47 +0100

I was asked during TPAC to briefly outline a potential alternate approach
to making XML namespaces usable on the Web on this mailing list. (Which is
what the "distributed extensibility" debate seems to center around.)

The reason people appear to be pushing for some solution of XML namespaces
in HTML seem to be:

A) There is a lot of legacy systems out there that would be hard to
re-factor to make them ready for XML. They would basically have to be
rewritten from the ground up to work with an XML toolchain to make sure
the output is always namespace well-formed. Besides that this probably
would not happen for cost-benefit reasons it also makes writing a simple
tool that outputs content a lot more complicated. No more PHP echo or
Python print to show something on the screen, but rather you would have to
use some kind of DOM, a serializer, etc.

B) Internet Explorer does not support XHTML.

If the problem is just B I'm not sure it is worth introducing complexity
in HTML to work around a bug in a browser. Generally we do not introduce
new features to work around bugs in browsers.

If the problem is A it seems to me it would be better to solve that
problem at its core: XML. I worked on that while ago (two years or so) and
put some experimental code and documentation online here:


It tries to preserve the existing characteristics of XML in browsers by
not doing anything with the DTD and by being stream-able. It is also
backwards compatible with XML 1.0 and I think XML 1.1 in the sense that
any namespace well-formed XML 1.x document will result in the same tree
when using an XML5 parser. The main new feature is that it also defines
what the resulting tree will be for byte streams that are not namespace

The idea is that "XML5" would replace XML 1.x so that we do not end up
with yet another dialect. This and most of the above is quite
controversial and since I'm personally still not quite sure what problem
XML namespaces is solving (they appear to have been added mostly for RDF)
I have never really pursued this idea much further. However, it was
brought up again so I thought I should outline the thought process.

(Another reason I played with XML5 is that in mobile walled gardens one
can often find non-namespace well-formed XML that is expected to processed
anyway because less compliant user agents that came before us (see also
http://simon.html5.org/articles/mobile-results ) processed it too.)

Simon Pieters
Opera Software
Received on Monday, 16 November 2009 14:38:59 UTC

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