[whatwg] The problems with namespaces in text/html (Was: MathML-in-HTML5)

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Fri Nov 3 21:51:16 PST 2006

On Mon, 9 Oct 2006, dolphinling wrote:
> >
> > I'm not saying don't add MathML to HTML. I'm saying don't add 
> > namespace syntax to HTML.
> Is this feasible? As much as I'd like this for ease of use, at some 
> point or other when enough things have been added to html, there will be 
> conflicts. Namespaces seem like the only way to avoid those conflicts, 
> and there needs to be some way of representing those namespaces.

Since we can control what becomes valid HTML, yes, I think it's feasible.

> > Some pages even have completely bogus namespaces on the root <html> 
> > element, which would make the entire page screw up. Even worse, Office 
> > HTML, of which there is a LOT on the Web, uses namespaces in a way to 
> > trigger IE to do one thing, but relies on the other browsers *not* 
> > handling the namespaces to make sure it all works everywhere. (Like I 
> > said earlier, I've worked with one browser vendor who tried 
> > implementing this namespace thing before, and had to back out because 
> > it broke real content in pretty fundamental ways.)
> Is the list of bogus namespaces relatively confined? Would it be 
> technically feasible to enumerate the worst ones and say "ignore these"?

The list is pretty big, actually. It's quite depressing.

> Are there any reasons besides ease of use and misuse in tag-soup content 
> that XML's namespace syntax shouldn't be added to HTML?

I can't think of any other reasons off-hand, no. But those reasons are so 
big that I find it difficult to think of anything but those problems when 
I consider namespaces, so it might just be that I'm not thinking clearly 
enough to see the other problems.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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