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Subject: Re: [dita] Proposal for DITA namespaces

Erik Hennum wrote:

> The DITA DTDs have seen much more use and attention than the
> Schemas.  (Even so, there have been flaws.)  Because of the
> greater attention and the stability of DTD implementations,
> DTDs pose less risk than Schemas.
> All that said, I for one would very much like to see DITA
> enhanced with a namespace scheme.  We would need to find a
> good way to do it and to avoid delay because of it.

In this discussion I see the following questions:

1. Does DITA need namespaces? I say "absolutely", Erik is saying "very 
probably". I'm not sure if there is wider concensus one way or the other.

2. If there are name spaces, how many and how will they be used? This is 
very much an open question and will require experimentation and thought. 
My current thinking, based on a very small amount of work with a very 
narrow goal, is two: one for maps and one for topics and things derived 
from them within the DITA 1.0 spec. Non-DITA-defined specializations 
would be in their won namespaces. This does not address the question of 
whether or not domain-specific elements defined by DITA should be in 
their own namespaces. I don't know the answer to that one.

3. Somewhat orthogonal to the namespace issue, is the issue of what the 
normative form of the DITA element type declarations should be:

  A. The DOCTYPE declaration set

  B. An XSD schema

  C. Both the DOCTYPE and XSD schema

  D. Some other form from which the DOCTYPE and XSD can be automatically 

In the 1.0 timeframe I think I could live with making the DOCTYPE 
declaration set normative with the XSD a non-normative (but supported) 
adjunct to it. I would prefer to make the XSD schema normative but I 
don't think it's worth delaying 1.0 to make it so and I recognize the 
significant legacy that is dependent on the current DOCTYPE-based approach.

And I will re-iterate my position on the need for namespaces, 
irrespective of the element type declaration mechanism used: there is no 
other standard way in XML to unambiguously declare that a document 
conforms to a particular set of rules. Without this type of declaration 
there is no way to know, in the general case, that a given document is 
in fact, without question, a DITA document. Without this it is not 
possible to have completely generic tools that can automatically 
recognize and process DITA documents without question.


W. Eliot Kimber
Professional Services
Innodata Isogen
9390 Research Blvd, #410
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 372-8122


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