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Re: Update on namespaces

From: W. Eliot Kimber <eliot@isogen.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Jun 1997 15:10:54 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: w3c-sgml-wg@w3.org
At 01:48 PM 6/18/97 -0500, Paul Grosso wrote:
>Considering only the issue of specifying the namespace for the
>names in a given element instance's "markup" (its start and endtag),
>here are my problems with archforms:
>1.  you would need to parse the start tag for all attributes (and
>    maybe check the internal subset and/or DTD) to determine if it
>    has a namespace-specifying attribute BEFORE you can determine
>    what the namespace is for the very element gi and attribute
>    specification list you just parsed!  If, in fact, you are going
>    to make any use of any declarations (DTD or internal subset),
>    you may discover after resetting the namespace that you've parsed
>    all the attributes wrong.  You might even discover that, in your
>    new namespace, you've got different arch forms so the attribute
>    you thought just changed your namespace doesn't really change
>    namespace in your new namespace!

The use of architectural forms doesn't affect the *parsing* of elements in
any way.  Therefore, the recognition or non recognition of "name spaces"
can't affect the parsing of the attributes.  

>2.  by using archforms, you have no way to allow different names in
>    a start tag to come from different namespaces.  I'm not sure how
>    far we'd want to go here, but I predict there will be call for
>    having some attributes from one namespace and others from another
>    (Andrew and others have already shown some examples of this), and
>    going with archforms precludes ever being able to do this.

This is not true.  The attributes on a start tag are associated with
architectures either because they have the same name as the attributes
declared in the applicable meta-DTD or because the local names have been
mapped to the architectural names using an architectural renaming attribute
(e.g., "hynames").  As an element can be derived from any number of
architectures concurrently, you can have attributes from each one without
difficulty (for disambiguating name clashes, if any).

For example, given this architectural element form from the "part-list"
architecture (which I've just made up for this example):

<!ELEMENT part-number  - - (#PCDATA|part-brid)* >
<!ATTLIST part-number
          product    CDATA #IMPLIED -- Product this is a part for --

I can derive my own element from it like so:

<!ELEMENT PartNo  - - (#PCDATA)* >
          product   CDATA #IMPLIED 
          part-list NAME  #FIXED "part-number"

The "part-list" attribute is the "architectural form naming attribute" and
indicates that "PartNo" is derived from the "part-number" element form in
the "part-list" architecture.  Because the "product" attribute has the same
name as the "product" attribute of the "part-number" form, the Part-Number
architectural processor assumes that the product attribute is its and
processes (and, optionally, validates) it according to its semantics for
the product attribute. [The form "part-brid" in the part-number meta
content model represents a general-purpose architectural place holder that
can be used for any element you want to be architectural.  The content
model (#PCDATA|x-brid)* means "whatever goes here is fine".]

If we subsequently want to derive PartNo from another form in a different
architecture, say one for expressing formatting semantics, it would work
like as follows: 

First we declare a new architectural form in a new architecture, the
"format-stuff" architecture):

<!-- Formatting stuff architecture -->
<!ELEMENT Bold  - - (#PCDATA|format-brid)* >
          product (msie|netscape|cello|dontcare) dontcare
          -- Product this format spec is intended for --

Now we update the ProdNo declaration to reflect the new derivation:
<!ELEMENT PartNo  - - (#PCDATA)* >
          product      CDATA #IMPLIED 
          browser      (msie|netscape|dontcare) dontcare
          part-list    NAME #FIXED "part-number"
          format-stuff NAME FIXED "bold"
                       CDATA #FIXED "product browser"

I now have two schema spaces associated with the PartNo element.  The
format-stuff architecture recognizes the "browser" attribute as being its
expected "product" attribute because the "format-stuff-names" attribute has
defined the mapping that disambiguates the name conflict.

>3.  if you go with something like a "namespaceid:" prefix, as long as
>    you've added : to namechar, a standard XML parser will be able to
>    parse the (fully namespace-qualified) document properly distinguishing
>    the distinct names (and, e.g., knowing what style sheets to use for
>    each element).  With arch forms, you have what I consider to be an
>    undesirable situation where the actual parsing of the document (as
>    opposed to just its application-dependent semantic interpretation)
>    is affected by the recognition of and proper reaction to the meaning
>    of the arch forms.  Said another way, I think archforms should only
>    affect the application-level semantic processing of a document, not
>    its basic parsing.  

Archforms *do* only affect the application-level semantic processing of the
document.  They don't (and can't) affect the parsing at all.  Architectural
validation is *not* the same as parsing--it happens after parsing of the
base document.  The only issue is whether the architecture control
attributes are fixed in some declarations or explicit on each element.

>I also tend to agree with Tim's "massive resistance in webland" comment,
>and I'm not sure I understand the comment attributed to James that a
>vanilla XML parser can handle the archform solution (how can it unless
>you assume it has built-in handling for the namespace archform semantic).

Because ultimately it's nothing more than associating a variety of semantic
labels (architectural forms) with elements.  You can implement this with a
case statement conditioned off the values of the architectural
attributes--it requires no more sophistication than that if you don't
intend to do architectural validation.  I wrote a whole architecture-based
processor in Rexx using just this technique.  I did the same thing in Perl
for HyTime (www.isogen.com/demos/hy-lib.html).  It's just not that hard:

# Apply part-number architecture processing to elements derived from 
# part-number forms
switch (attval("part-number")) {
  case "product":
    rc = PN_load__part_database(attval(archatt("product", "part-number")))
  default "part-brid:
    rc = do_default_part_number_processing($attlist, $content)

>If you need to refer to fancier combination of namespaces--I wouldn't call
>it "multiple inheritance"--(and I'm not sure we do, but we might want to
>allow for it later), that can be handled as follows.  Given that we use
>a notation declaration to associate the "namespaceid" name that comes
>before the ":", e.g.:
>	<!NOTATION nsid SYSTEM "...some URI/FPI/FSI sort of thing...">
>we can define a syntax that allows the system identifier to point to
>multiple namespaces.  One obvious syntax is that of FSIs which are
>structured identifiers that allow for sequences and/or or-groups of
>URIs and such.

Note that architectures are declared as notations, which provides the
connection from the document to the architectures from which it is derived.
 The architecture notation declaration also defines the attributes used in
the instance to associate the architecture with elements (you use data
attributes to declare the names of the architectural form naming attribute
and the architectural renaming attribute).

In both cases you're associating a set of semantic names with the
definition of the semantics behind those names.  The key question is the
syntax by which the new names get associated with the base elements and
attributes.  Architectural forms have the advantage that the association
can be completely hidden from the instance *when you have a DTD*.
Obviously, when you don't, they have to be exposed.  [One problem with the
":" proposals is that they are *always* exposed.]

In a normal SGML environment, where you (today) always have explicit DTDs,
the architectural control attributes need never be exposed, so the use of
AFs there is very low cost.  In XML, you have to worry about exposure.
It's certainly true that from a "simplest syntax" standpoint, if you have
to expose the names, doing it in the tag name or attribute name is better
than doing it with attributes, but in the larger scheme of things, I don't
think it makes that much difference.


Received on Thursday, 19 June 1997 16:13:33 UTC

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