patterns and multiple namespaces

Subject: patterns and multiple namespaces
From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 08:53:00 -0400
If, as seems likely:

*the 'multiple namespaces for a language most people treat as a single
language' proposal for XHTML goes through

* and the views of the W3C director (expounded 'in no official capacity' on
XML-dev at
influence discussion regarding the 'proper' use of namespaces

then a lot of cases are going to emerge where stylesheets need to be
written that support the same vocabulary across multiple namespaces.  

Ian Hickson has written an excellent description of the problem as it
affects CSS3 selectors (see 

For XSL, we have the following message from James Clark on XML-dev (9/3/99
>Mark Birbeck wrote:
>> A template of 'P' would match all elements that have a local
>> name 'P', regardless of the namespace they came from,
>Not true.  It matches a P whose expanded-name has a local name of P and
>a null namespace URI.

Based on my reading of the XSLT draft and the message above, it seems that
XSLT patterns have a similar problem.  Stylesheets written for XHTML (say,
to convert them to PDF using FOP) are going to need to be written three
times, once for each type.  While this may be doable using
search-and-replace and keeping around three copies of a stylesheet, this
isn't the most elegant solution.

Is there a more elegant solution that I've missed? Does the spec need
revision to accomodate this?  Or are we just stuck?

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer (2nd Ed - September)
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
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