Linking and XML: The State of the Debate

by Bob DuCharme

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In a new XML-Deviant piece in, Edd Dumbill does a Herculean job of distilling an xml-dev thread that currently adds up to 97 messages without having quite petered out yet. The general topic is whether any new standards work can make it easier to represent links in XML at a more sophisticated level than HTML a/@href links do. I think it's generally agreed that XLink's lack of traction shows that it didn't succeed at this goal.

What do we mean when we say "linking"? How does this term relate to hyperlinking? What metadata should be included in a link? How much, if any, of this metadata should be related to link presentation? Is the "hyper" in "hyperlink" a presentation issue? Is linking something to specify in data or as part of a data model? What role can stylesheets or RDF play? These questions have been around for a while, and it's interesting to see the arguments and counter-arguments of various XML luminaries as they hash through the current ideas about these topics. Check out Edd's summary, and if you're really interested, try dipping into various places in the complete thread.