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

Elliotte Harold elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Sat Nov 4 03:15:47 PST 2006

Ian Hickson wrote:

>>> Some pages even have completely bogus namespaces on the root <html> 
>>> element, which would make the entire page screw up. 

Let the page screw up. The author will notice it and fix it. That's like 
saying some people mistype table as tabel and therefore we shoudl accept 
both spellings.

> 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. 

Can you elaborate on the specifics? If it's their custom office 
namespaces, I'm not too surprised.

>> 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.

I'm sorry. Those reasons are *TRIVIAL*. They are easily handled, and 
easily fixed. This isn't even close to some of the other things that 
have been successfully introduced to th Web in the last 10 years like 
JavaScript, CSS, tables, or frames. This is like being scared of a 
mouse, while ignoring the ravenous tiger behind your back.

We need namespaces. XML tools just don't work without them, and XML 
tools are about the only thing most developers not working for browser 
vendors have that can process this stuff. In fact, I think developers 
have voted with their feet to adopt the XML toolchain as the sensible 
way to process HTML. We must not throw the entire community of people 
who want to write code to generate and process Web pages over the side 
just to make life a teeny bit easier for people who hand author HTML in 
text editors.

Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Java I/O 2nd Edition Just Published!

More information about the whatwg mailing list