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Re: Namespace treatment

From: james anderson <james.anderson@mecomnet.de>
Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000 16:15:58 +0100
Message-ID: <38C3CBAD.2594906D@mecomnet.de>
To: "www-dom@w3.org" <www-dom@w3.org>

keshlam@us.ibm.com wrote:
> >There is a peculiar asymmetry in the way the DOM models namespaces. It
> >is said, for example, that a given element node (as any node) is bound
> >to a namespace. This although it is not the node which stands in a
> >relation to a namespace, but the node's name. Why was it deemed
> >necessary to close this transitive relation in the model?
> It's really an early-binding/late-binding issue. We could have bound the
> URI to the name, and said that every time you try to get the namespace URI,
> we would resolve it in the context of the namespace declaration attributes
> at and above that node. This might have been more elegant, but would
> definitely have involved more computation.

You have confused me here. If the URI is bound to the name, then there
is no resolution necessary. Or did you mean the prefix?

In any case, the issue of early/late binding is independent of where the
URI (or prefix) is bound. The dom binds it to the element node. The
alternative would have been to make the name itself a first class node
and bind the URI there. Whether it is then late or early bound is a
separate issue. 
> Also, it's unclear that's the right behavior. What if you move a node from
> one point to another, and thereby into a context where the same prefix is
> bound to a different URI? It's "the same node object", so one can argue
> that its behavior shouldn't change -- and that therefore it should stay in
> the original namespace. (This is more important if you have a DOM which
> subclasses nodes based on which namespace they belong to -- we aren't sure
> whether anyone will do that, but we didn't want to rule it out.)

I agree with the above, but, as said, it's not the issue which I was
adressing. If the URI is bound to the name, then the name is static, as
the namespace spec implies it should be. All the questions re prefixes
don't signify as the prefix has no defined meaning in the DOM.

> We really did consider trying to define things such that the behavior would
> always be consistent with writing out to XML text, making a change at that
> level, and reading it back in. But our conclusion was that the DOM
> represents the infoset -- the data model of the XML document's contents,
> rather than its syntax -- and that the early-binding approach was most
> practical for most DOM applications. Complications only arise if you really
> want to change a node's namespace URI (in which case we feel you should
> create a new node, since the URI is part of the node's identity in the same
> sense that localname is), or at serialization time (see below).

When the model is defined such that the prefix/uri bindings exist
independent of the names, and the infoset is defined to include
"namespace attributes", complications must arise each time one
introduces a name into the scope of an element without having the
appropriate prefix/uri bindings present. Until the namespace attributes
are "normalized" the DOM is invalid.

For a simple "attribute added to an element node" this is no real
problem. A synchronized "add attribute" operator could be defined to
clean up on the way out. For general tree mutations, on the other hand,
this will be a lost cause.
> >Any "namespace" attributes
> >are superfluous. They could well be trashed upon element modification
> >and generated (with caching if so desired) as requested.
> True. Note that the Infoset says that the namespace declarations are not
> really attributes, and some folks did argue that they shouldn't appear in
> the DOM at all. But we wanted to allow Level 1 "pseudo-namespace" code to
> continue working with Level 2 DOMs, and that meant retaining the
> declarations.

I wonder how long that will last.

> >Why normalize? ever?
> Valid question. But there were requests -- e.g. from those who (like
> Deiter) don't like the look of attributes with qualified-name collisions --
> for such a mechanism.

"Qualified name collisions" are an artifact of incorrect serialization.
As I noted above, the prefixes (where they are prefixes) have no defined
meaning in the DOM. Where they are part of the name proper, they are
intrinsically invalid, but I'm not concerned with that case. Where the
DOM is namespace aware no operations based on prefixed can have a
defined result and the prefixes attain significance once serialized
only. At which point correct serialization never generates collisions.

>        Since the Load/Save chapter of Level 3 is going to
> have to deal with that anyway, our current guess is that exposing it as a
> separate method ought to be easy. If it isn't, we'll have to do a more
> serious cost/benefit analysis.
> >>     In Level 2, that normalization task is left as an exercise for
> >> the reader,
> > poor soul...
> In fact, I expect that most folks will use a serializer that was packaged
> with their parser... so this is mostly an exercise for the experts, who
> probably have a pretty good handle on how to deal with it.
> Shouldn't be bad. During the tree-walk, if you see a prefix-to-URI binding
> that isn't currently declared, issue a declaration at that node (or, in the
> case of an Attr, at the owningNode -- yes, this requires a tiny bit of
> lookahead).

A method which would work with the proposed SAX2 api is to
- push a namespace frame with any asserted prefix/uri binding prior to
processing an element node
- serialize each name (element, attribute) in turn
- if the uri is bound, there's nothing to do
- if the uri is unbound then bind it in the frame with either a pretty
nickname, if that is unique in the frame, or with a canonical name
otherwise. the canonical names are generated when the namespace is first encountered.
- serialize the namespace frame

Whether this is said to involve lookahead depends on ones view of
namespace frames.
If one is not concerned with the pretty names, one also never needs to
check for prefix uniqueness - "normalization" is a side-effect of
namespace uniqueness.
Received on Monday, 6 March 2000 10:09:41 UTC

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