How can I validate an XML document that uses XML namespaces?
When people ask this question, they usually assume that validity is different for documents that use XML namespaces and documents that don't. In fact, it isn't -- it's the same for both. Thus, there is no difference between validating a document that uses XML namespaces and validating one that doesn't. In either case, you simply use a validating parser or other software that performs validation
If I start using XML namespaces, do I need to change my existing DTDs?
Probably. If you want your XML documents to be both valid and conform to the XML namespaces recommendation, you need to declare any xmlns attributes and use the same qualified names in the DTD as in the body of the document.
If your DTD contains element type and attribute names from a single XML namespace, the easiest thing to do is to use your XML namespace as the default XML namespace. To do this, declare the attribute xmlns (no prefix) for each possible root element type. If you can guarantee that the DTD is always read , set the default value in each xmlns attribute declaration to the URI used as your namespace name. Otherwise, declare your XML namespace as the default XML namespace on the root element of each instance document.
If your DTD contains element type and attribute names from multiple XML namespaces, you need to choose a single prefix for each XML namespace and use these consistently in qualified names in both the DTD and the body of each document. You also need to declare your xmlns attributes in the DTD and declare your XML namespaces. As in the single XML namespace case, the easiest way to do this is add xmlns attributes to each possible root element type and use default values if possible.
How do I create documents that use XML namespaces?
The same as you create documents that don't use XML namespaces. If you're currently using Notepad on Windows or emacs on Linux, you can continue using Notepad or emacs. If you're using an XML editor that is not namespace-aware, you can also continue to use that, as qualified names are legal names in XML documents and xmlns attributes are legal attributes. And if you're using an XML editor that is namespace-aware, it will probably provide features such as automatically declaring XML namespaces and keeping track of prefixes and the default XML namespace for you.
How can I check that a document conforms to the XML namespaces recommendation?
Unfortunately, I know of no software that only checks for conformance to the XML namespaces recommendation. It is possible that some namespace-aware validating parsers (such as those from DataChannel (Microsoft), IBM, Oracle, or Sun) check XML namespace conformance as part of parsing and validating. Thus, you might be able to run your document through such parsers as a way of testing conformance.
Note that writing an application to check conformance to the XML namespaces recommendation is not as easy as it might seem. The problem is that most parsers do not make DTD information available to the application, so it might not be possible to check conformance in the DTD. Also note that writing a SAX 1.0 application that checks conformance in the body of the document (as opposed to the DTD) should be an easy thing to do.
Can I use the same document with both namespace-aware and namespace-unaware applications?
This situation is quite common, such as when a namespace-aware application is built on top of a namespace-unaware parser. Another common situation is when you create an XML document with a namespace-unaware XML editor but process it with a namespace-aware application.
Using the same document with both namespace-aware and namespace-unaware applications is possible because XML namespaces use XML syntax. That is, an XML document that uses XML namespaces is still an XML document and is recognized as such by namespace-unaware software.
The only thing you need to be careful about when using the same document with both namespace-aware and namespace-unaware applications is when the namespace-unaware application requires the document to be valid. In this case, you must be careful to construct your document in a way that is both valid and conforms to the XML namespaces recommendation.
What software is needed to process XML namespaces?
From a document author's perspective, this is generally not a relevant question. Most XML documents are written in a specific XML language and processed by an application that understands that language. If the language uses an XML namespace, then the application will already use that namespace -- there is no need for any special XML namespace software.