Need better usage of QName datatypes in XForms submissions

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Need better usage of QName datatypes in XForms submissions

John Boyer

The current XForms submission has an attribute called includenamespacesprefixes.

If you leave out this attribute, the submitted instance may receive numerous namespaces declarations from the containing document that are not declared on the root element of the instance itself.

If you add includenamespaceprefixes="", then the list of namespaces added to the root element is attenuated to those that are *visibly utilized*.

If you add a space separated list, e.g. includenamespaceprefixes="xforms xf xsd", then the namespaces added to those declared on the root element is the set of inherited namespaces that are *visibly utilized* plus those listed prefixes (if they do indeed exist as defined namespace prefixes).

The term *visibly utilized* was borrowed from exclusive canonicalization and refers to the namespace prefix being used in an element or attribute declaration.

A namespace prefix may also be used in an attribute value or other content.  In this case, the prefix is not visibly utilized in the XML sense but is still needed in order for the submitted instance data to be reasonably interpreted.  Indeed we added includenamespaceprefixes as an attempt to address this problem.

As we continue to write more mature products that interact with XForms-produced data, we're seeing some gaps here.  An important case in point is the xsi:type attribute.  It may contain a value like "xforms:date", but the prefix xforms is not visibly utilized, and so the submission data does not have the prefix if one has used includenamespaceprefixes="".  This makes the data unusable by schema validating server-side modules.

In this case, we could make authors fix the problem by setting includenamespaceprefixes="xf xforms xsd" or some such, but making the form author fix the problem is a bandage solution that will become less tenable over time as we go further into componentization.

In the long run, it would be better to have our own definition of "visibly utilizing" an XML namespace that accommodates any QName datatype assignments. For example, xsi:type is defined as a QName in the XML schema schema.   Generally, if the datatype of a node is QName, either from a type MIP or an available schema, then the XForms submission should look at the value of that node for additional namespace prefixes that may be in use.

We could even adopt a cheeky name for our new concept, such as "visibly using" the namespace, since after all you should use utilize when you can reasonably utilize use.

John M. Boyer, Ph.D.
STSM, Interactive Documents and Web 2.0 Applications
Chair, W3C Forms Working Group
Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Software
IBM Victoria Software Lab
E-Mail: [hidden email]  

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