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RE: [xml-dev] Current status of XLink

From: Ben Trafford <ben@--------.-->
To: <xml-dev@-----.---.--->
Date: 3/26/2004 10:40:00 PM
At 01:35 PM 3/26/2004 +0000, Michael Kay wrote:
>In my view the mess is because XLink simply doesn't fit into the layering 
>of the XML architecture. The whole point of XML is that you can choose any 
>names you like for your objects and attributes, and give them any 
>semantics that you like (typically captured in schemas and stylesheets). 
>So why should relationships be different from objects and attributes, and 
>require fixed names and fixed semantics?

         There wasn't a sufficient XML architecture in place during XLink's 
development, frankly. As I've mentioned before, this was 1998. Nobody had a 
clear view of how things were going to proceed.

>Hyperlinking is something that belongs in the user interface layer, not in 
>the stored information. The stored information needs to hold relationship 
>information in a much more abstract form. The hyperlinks, like all other 
>user interface objects, should be generated by the stylesheet. It's 
>because the hyperlinking community failed to recognize this that the idea 
>failed to catch on. The other consequence of this is that there is a 
>gaping hole in the XML story as to how abstract relationships should be 

         The hyperlinking community actually recognized it quite early. You 
have XPath because we recognized it, and thus, a unified semantic for 
referring to parts of an XML document. Notice the names on the XPath 1.0 
document? James Clark (XSLT) and Steve DeRose (XPointer and XLink). 
Unfortunately, that's where the rapprochement stopped.

         XSLT and XSL-FO (not mention CSS) -should- have functionality to 
deal with the kind of hyperlinking constructs we were trying to build into 
XLink. If they did, the structure of the language would've been much 
different, I think. Unfortunately, that never happened.

         My two cents: I think XLink should be scrapped (even though it has 
my name on it - *sigh*). The XSL and CSS Working Groups should be made to 
sit down with a new XLink WG, and forced to hammer out the stylistic and 
behavioral aspects of good hyperlinking. And then the XLink folks should 
make a specific that describes relationships, not behavior. This should've 
happened years ago.

         If such stylistic and behavioral support existed in the first 
place, maybe we'd be seeing a better quality of hyperlinking on the Web, 
instead of the ugly morass of scripting tricks we're seeing now.



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