An Introduction to XML Linking

June 10, 1998

A Talk by Eve Maler on XLL

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Eve Maler of Arbortext is co-editor of the XML Linking Language (XLL) specification, which is currently a working draft at the W3C. In this talk, Maler explains the goals of XLL and how it enables new applications and solves old problems. This audio presentation is an edited excerpt of her talk at Seybold Seminars/NY.

Update: While Maler comments in this talk that the name of the linking specification was in flux, and refers to it as XLL and XLink, the working group has decided to continue using XLL.


What XLL Enables

  • Bidirectional linking
  • Filtered views of data
  • Persistent links that have semantics attached to them
  • Dynamic document assembly
  • Create links from documents you can't edit
  • Publish dynamic updates or software patches
  • Support annotations
  • Manage links so that they don't break
  • Establish links as first-class citizens.

The XLL Specification

  • First called XLink, then XML-Link and now XLL.
  • XLL may become its own working group at the W3C.
  • Co-editors of the specifications are Eve Maler and Steve DeRose
  • Based on SGML, HyTime and the Text Encoding Iniative(TEI).

Goals of XLL

  • Scalable
  • Maintainable

Two Components of XLL

  1. X-Link
    XML linking is the ability to link to something that's interesting to you.
  2. X-Pointer
    XML Pointer adds advanced addressing into the XML Document structure.


X-Pointer Syntax

Advantages of X-Pointer

  • Small syntax
  • More robust against change
  • X-Pointers operate on tree nodes.

Features of XLL

  • A language that allows you to invent your own link elements.
  • Allows you to create link databases
  • Specify traversal behavior

Basic link types

  1. Inline links that live at point where link is initiated.
  2. Out-of-line links that live in a link databases.

XML Spec

XLL Working Draft