namespaces-considered-harmful

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namespaces considered harmful

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The mixed namespace approach has already been tried by *numerous* others since 1998 and has failed on the Web.

On the other hand, XHTML + semantic class names has seen widespread adoption among the web authoring/design/IA/publishing community. Microformats is leveraging the approach that is both working better and frankly dominating in practice on the Web.

Namespaces are actually a *huge* negative. Search for:

Namespaces are actually *not* well supported in sufficient modern browsers, nor even sufficiently with enough W3C technologies or test suites as compared to (X)HTML + semantic class names + CSS.

Namespaces encourage people to seclude themselves in their own namespace and invent their own schema rather than reusing existing elements in existing formats. This hurts interoperability because a dozen different namespaces can all have their own slightly different semantics for the same element. See BuildOrBuy for support for this argument, specifically

Use somebody elses rather than making aliases on purpose. It's one thing to make your own and then discover that there's something equivalent out there. It's quite another to willfully clutter the semantic web with aliases; the latter increases the burden on the community of consuming your data, so it's anti-social.

If you start thinking about the web in terms of OOP and polymorphism, namespaces break the polymorphic model that allows you handle widely varied data structures using the same methods.

See Also