W3C Advances Web Document Specification

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) has made progress in its endeavor to combine two technologies whose
purpose is creating lively Web documents.

The group issued the Document Object Model (DOM) Level 3 XPath Specification, which is geared to fuse the DOM
and XPath technologies, which are often inconsistent with each other.

DOM is the application programming interface (API) for how objects in a Web page — text, images, headers — are
represented. The DOM defines what attributes are associated with each object, and how the objects can be
manipulated. It makes it easier for Web developers to create Web pages that are more animated and functional.
XPath, a language for addressing parts of an XML document, is becoming an important part of a variety of many
specifications including XForms, XPointer, XSL and XML Query.

The W3C explained the reason for the specification: “This specification was created to map between the Document
Object Model’s representation of the W3C Information Set and XPath’s model to permit XPath functions to be
supplied and results returned within the framework of DOM APIs in a standard, interoperable way, allowing also for
liveness of data, which is not addressed by the XPath specification but is present in results coming from the DOM…”

In simple terms, the W3C sees DOM and XPath as complementary and has embarked on a task to marry the two for
an even greater level of functionality for Web documents. To that end, the mapping of how the two will work together
has been issued as a candidate recommendation, which means it has one more step to go in the group’s long,
thorough recommendation process.

The Document Object Model (DOM) Level 3 XPath Specification is slated to be reviewed over the next two months by
the W3C DOM Working Group, culminating on May 26. Vendors who work within the W3C DOM Working Group include
Arbortext, Corel, IBM, Netscape, Oracle and X-Hive.