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"Identifying Individual Terms" in "Associating Resources with Namespaces" draft TAG finding

From: <Simon.Cox@csiro.au>
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 19:26:29 +0800
Message-ID: <648527B4E47AFB468DB88885E4C23ABF010581B1@exwa3-per.nexus.csiro.au>
To: <www-tag@w3.org>
Within the Associating Resources with Namespaces draft
(http://www.w3.org/2001/tag/doc/nsDocuments/) the topic "Identifying
Individual Terms" addresses a question of very general interest
concerning controlled vocabularies and "ontologies": "For many
applications of namespaces, it's valuable not only to be able to point
to the namespace as a whole, but also to be able to point to terms
within that namespace." That is important and unarguable. However, this
is immediately followed by a throw-away statement: "Fragment identifiers
are the obvious mechanism for achieving this", and no alternatives are
considered. I think this should be more closely examined. 


The danger point is that, under http, the fragment is not sent to the

1. the server returns the resource-as-a-whole with http 200 "success"
regardless of whether the fragment identifier exists. 

2. the resource-as-a-whole could be enormous (e.g. the OED), making it
highly undesirable to pull the whole thing down

3. resolution of the fragment is the responsibility of the client, which
is nice in theory, but is only handled consistently in the cases of 

(a) HTML by browsers, and 

(b) OWL documents by OWL applications. 

In particular, support for fragment handling in generic XML is rare to
non-existent, notwithstanding the existence of the xs:ID type. 


I'd like to see a pattern that recognizes "Individual terms" as
first-class resources, handled by the server, rather than involving
unnecessary network traffic and pushing a potentially large processing
job back to the client. 


Furthermore, this mechanism only supports one level of nesting. 

We know that in general more levels (and other kinds of associations)
are needed. 

If developing identifier patterns to support nesting, it is a mistake to
restrict this to a method that is so limited. 


Simon Cox

Simon.Cox@csiro.au  CSIRO Exploration & Mining
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Received on Wednesday, 21 May 2008 11:27:14 UTC

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