XLink draws some friendly fire
17:47, 13 Mar 2000 UTC | Simon St.Laurent

An unusually public exchange of W3C Working Group (WG) comments on the Last Call XLink draft is reopening old questions about the shape of the specification.

Comments about the Last Call draft have been trickling in for weeks Even before the Last Call draft was released, Lloyd Rutledge acknowledged that the XLink WG had chosen not to meet all the requirements it initially set for itself:

"This decision is based on the group's consensus that the technical means for meeting these requirements do not exist, and it is outside of scope and capabilities of the XML Linking working group to specify these technical means."

That argument had also been made in December on XML-Dev by David Megginson, who suggested:

"I think that any remapping mechanism needs to be implemented across all of XML, and not confined to XLink, or we'll end up with a nasty hodgepodge of mapping mechanisms."

The current XLink decision didn't seem to go over very well with the HTML Working Group, which is probably the project most affected by the Xlink WG's decision. Steven Pemberton, Chair of the HTML WG, wrote:

"sometime in 1999, Xlink stopped describing linking, and started being it. This is a major change, because all of a sudden you are forced to change your documents if you want to use Xlink, even though the current Xlink draft still claims it is a requirement that documents not need to be changed."

"Another result of the change from description to namespace is there is no way you can use it to describe the millions of pages that are already on the Web; nor can you use it after the fact when you realise that something can usefully be a link, even though up to now it hasn't."

Other posts included questions about the need for XBase, a minority view of external linkset processing, and the relationship between XLink and XML Schemas.

Update: A new message from the Synchronized Multimedia working group chair also finds the impact on SMIL to be significant, and suggests further work.

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