Canonical XML 1.1 is a revision
to Canonical XML 1.0 to address issues related to inheritance of
attributes in the XML namespace when canonicalizing document subsets,
including the requirement not to inherit
xml:base URI path processing properly.
Any XML document is part of a set of XML documents that are logically equivalent within an application context, but which vary in physical representation based on syntactic changes permitted by XML 1.0 [XML] and Namespaces in XML [Names]. This specification describes a method for generating a physical representation, the canonical form, of an XML document that accounts for the permissible changes. Except for limitations regarding a few unusual cases, if two documents have the same canonical form, then the two documents are logically equivalent within the given application context. Note that two documents may have differing canonical forms yet still be equivalent in a given context based on application-specific equivalence rules for which no generalized XML specification could account.
Canonical XML 1.1 is applicable to XML 1.0 and defined in terms of the XPath 1.0 data model. It is not defined for XML 1.1.
This section describes the status of this document at the time of its publication. Other documents may supersede this document. A list of current W3C publications and the latest revision of this technical report can be found in the W3C technical reports index at http://www.w3.org/TR/.
Publication as a Candidate Recommendation does not imply endorsement by the W3C Membership. This is a draft document and may be updated, replaced or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to cite this document as other than work in progress.
Candidate Recommendation comments on this document are invited. Comments on this document are due by 30 September 2007, but earlier comments are expressly solicited. Comments should be sent to email@example.com which is an automatically archived public email list. At this time, there is no implementation report. A review version with changes from the 1.0 version highlighted is available. A review version with changes since the Last Call version highlighted is available.
The XML Core Working Group will advance the specification to Proposed Recommendation when the following exit criteria have been met:
This document has been produced by the W3C XML Core Working Group as part of the W3C XML Activity. The authors of this document are the members of the XML Core Working Group and invited experts from the Digital Signature community.
This document was produced by a group operating under the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. W3C maintains a public list of any patent disclosures made in connection with the deliverables of the group; that page also includes instructions for disclosing a patent. An individual who has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) must disclose the information in accordance with section 6 of the W3C Patent Policy.
The English version of this specification is the only normative version.
The XML 1.0 Recommendation [XML] specifies the syntax of a class of resources called XML documents. The Namespaces in XML Recommendation [Names] specifies additional syntax and semantics for XML documents. It is possible for XML documents which are equivalent for the purposes of many applications to differ in physical representation. For example, they may differ in their entity structure, attribute ordering, and character encoding. It is the goal of this specification to establish a method for determining whether two documents are identical, or whether an application has not changed a document, except for transformations permitted by XML 1.0 and Namespaces in XML.
Canonical XML 1.1 is applicable to XML 1.0 and defined in terms of the XPath 1.0 data model. It is not defined for XML 1.1.
The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [Keywords].
See [Names] for the definition of QName.
A document subset is a portion of an XML document indicated by a node-set that may not include all of the nodes in the document.
The canonical form of an XML document is physical representation of the document produced by the method described in this specification. The changes are summarized in the following list:
xml:baseattributes [C14N-Issues] is performed
The term canonical XML refers to XML that is in canonical form. The XML canonicalization method is the algorithm defined by this specification that generates the canonical form of a given XML document or document subset. The term XML canonicalization refers to the process of applying the XML canonicalization method to an XML document or document subset.
The XPath 1.0 Recommendation [XPath] defines the term node-set and specifies
a data model for representing an input XML document as a set of nodes
of various types (element, attribute, namespace, text, comment, processing
instruction, and root). The nodes are included in or excluded from
a node-set based on the evaluation of an expression. Within this specification,
a node-set is used to directly indicate whether or not each node should
be rendered in the canonical form (in this sense, it is used as a
formal mathematical set). A node that is excluded from the set is
not rendered in the canonical form being generated, even if its parent
node is included in the node-set. However, an omitted node may still
impact the rendering of its descendants (e.g. by augmenting the namespace
context of the descendants or supplying a base URI through
Since the XML 1.0 Recommendation [XML] and the Namespaces in XML Recommendation [Names] define multiple syntactic methods for expressing the same information, XML applications tend to take liberties with changes that have no impact on the information content of the document. XML canonicalization is designed to be useful to applications that require the ability to test whether the information content of a document or document subset has been changed. This is done by comparing the canonical form of the original document before application processing with the canonical form of the document result of the application processing.
For example, a digital signature over the canonical form of an XML document or document subset would allow the signature digest calculations to be oblivious to changes in the original document's physical representation, provided that the changes are defined to be logically equivalent by the XML 1.0 or Namespaces in XML. During signature generation, the digest is computed over the canonical form of the document. The document is then transferred to the relying party, which validates the signature by reading the document and computing a digest of the canonical form of the received document. The equivalence of the digests computed by the signing and relying parties (and hence the equivalence of the canonical forms over which they were computed) ensures that the information content of the document has not been altered since it was signed.
Two XML documents may have differing information content that
is nonetheless logically equivalent within a given application context.
Although two XML documents are equivalent (aside from limitations
given in this section) if their canonical forms are identical, it
is not a goal of this work to establish a method such that two XML
documents are equivalent if and only if their canonical forms
are identical. Such a method is unachievable, in part due to application-specific
rules such as those governing unimportant whitespace and equivalent
<color>rgb(0,0,0)</color>). There are also equivalencies established by other W3C Recommendations
and Working Drafts. Accounting for these additional equivalence rules
is beyond the scope of this work. They can be applied by the application
or become the subject of future specifications.
The canonical form of an XML document may not be completely operational within the application context, though the circumstances under which this occurs are unusual. This problem may be of concern in certain applications since the canonical form of a document and the canonical form of the canonical form of the document are equivalent. For example, in a digital signature application, it cannot be established whether the operational original document or the non-operational canonical form was signed because the canonical form can be substituted for the original document without changing the digest calculation. However, the security risk only occurs in the unusual circumstances described below, which can all be resolved or at least detected prior to digital signature generation.
The difficulties arise due to the loss of the following information not available in the data model:
In the first case, note that a document containing a relative
URI [URI] is only operational when accessed from
a specific URI that provides the proper base URI. In addition, if
the document contains external general parsed entity references to
content containing relative URIs, then the relative URIs will not
be operational in the canonical form, which replaces the entity reference
with internal content (thereby implicitly changing the default base
URI of that content). Both of these problems can typically be solved
by adding support for the
xml:base attribute [XBase] to the application, then adding appropriate
xml:base attributes to document element and all top-level
elements in external entities. In addition, applications often have
an opportunity to resolve relative URIs prior to the need for a canonical
form. For example, in a digital signature application, a document
is often retrieved and processed prior to signature generation. The
processing SHOULD create a new document in which relative URIs have
been converted to absolute URIs, thereby mitigating any security risk
for the new document.
In the second case, the loss of external unparsed entity references and the notations that bind them to applications means that canonical forms cannot properly distinguish among XML documents that incorporate unparsed data via this mechanism. This is an unusual case precisely because most XML processors currently discard the document type declaration, which discards the notation, the entity's binding to a URI, and the attribute type that binds the attribute value to an entity name. For documents that must be subjected to more than one XML processor, the XML design typically indicates a reference to unparsed data using a URI in the attribute value.
third case, the loss of attribute types can affect the canonical form
in different ways depending on the type. Attributes of type ID, other
xml:id attribute, cease to be ID attributes.
Hence, any XPath expressions that refer to the canonical form using
id() function cease to operate. The attribute types
ENTITY and ENTITIES are not part of this case; they are covered in
the second case above. Attributes of enumerated type and of type ID,
IDREF, IDREFS, NMTOKEN, NMTOKENS, and NOTATION fail to be appropriately
constrained during future attempts to change the attribute value if
the canonical form replaces the original document during application
processing. Applications can avoid the difficulties of this case by
ensuring that an appropriate document type declaration is prepended
prior to using the canonical form in further XML processing. This
is likely to be an easy task since attribute lists are usually acquired
from a standard external DTD subset, and any entity and notation declarations
not also in the external DTD subset are typically constructed from
application configuration information and added to the internal DTD
While these limitations are not severe, it would be possible to resolve them in a future version of XML canonicalization if, for example, a new version of XPath were created based on the XML Information Set [Infoset] currently under development at the W3C.
The data model defined in the XPath 1.0 Recommendation [XPath] is used to represent the input XML document or document subset. Implementations SHOULD but need not be based on an XPath implementation. XML canonicalization is defined in terms of the XPath definition of a node-set, and implementations MUST produce equivalent results.
The first parameter of input to the XML canonicalization method is either an XPath node-set or an octet stream containing a well-formed XML document. Implementations MUST support the octet stream input and SHOULD also support the document subset feature via node-set input. For the purpose of describing canonicalization in terms of an XPath node-set, this section describes how an octet stream is converted to an XPath node-set.
The second parameter of input to the XML canonicalization method is a boolean flag indicating whether or not comments should be included in the canonical form output by the XML canonicalization method. If a canonical form contains comments corresponding to the comment nodes in the input node-set, the result is called canonical XML with comments. Note that the XPath data model does not create comment nodes for comments appearing within the document type declaration. Implementations are REQUIRED to be capable of producing canonical XML excluding all comments that may have appeared in the input document or document subset. Support for canonical XML with comments is RECOMMENDED.
If an XML document must be converted to a node-set, XPath REQUIRES that an XML processor be used to create the nodes of its data model to fully represent the document. The XML processor performs the following tasks in order:
The input octet stream MUST contain a well-formed XML document, but the input need not be validated. However, the attribute value normalization and entity reference resolution MUST be performed in accordance with the behaviors of a validating XML processor. As well, nodes for default attributes (declared in the ATTLIST with an AttValue but not specified) are created in each element. Thus, the declarations in the document type declaration are used to help create the canonical form, even though the document type declaration is not retained in the canonical form.
The XPath data model represents data using UCS characters. Implementations MUST use XML processors that support UTF-8 and UTF-16 and translate to the UCS character domain. For UTF-16, the leading byte order mark is treated as an artifact of encoding and stripped from the UCS character data (subsequent zero width non-breaking spaces appearing within the UTF-16 data are not removed) [UTF-16, Section 3.2]. Support for ISO-8859-1 encoding is RECOMMENDED, and all other character encodings are OPTIONAL.
All whitespace within the root document element MUST be preserved (except for any #xD characters deleted by line delimiter normalization). This includes all whitespace in external entities. Whitespace outside of the root document element MUST be discarded.
In the XPath data model, there exist the following node types: root, element, comment, processing instruction, text, attribute and namespace. There exists a single root node whose children are processing instruction nodes and comment nodes to represent information outside of the document element (and outside of the document type declaration). The root node also has a single element node representing the top-level document element. Each element node can have child nodes of type element, text, processing instruction, and comment. The attributes and namespaces associated with an element are not considered to be child nodes of the element, but they are associated with the element by inclusion in the element's attribute and namespace axes. Note that attribute and namespace axes may not directly correspond to the text appearing in the element's start tag in the original document.
Note: An element has attribute nodes to represent the non-namespace attribute declarations appearing in its start tag as well as nodes to represent the default attributes.
By virtue of the XPath data model, XML
canonicalization is namespace-aware [Names]. However, it cannot and therefore does not account for namespace
equivalencies using namespace prefix rewriting (see explanation in Section 4). In the
XPath data model, each element and attribute has a name returned by
name() which can, at the discretion of the
application, be the QName appearing in the original document. XML
canonicalization REQUIRES that the XML processor retain sufficient
information such that the QName of the element as it appeared in the
original document can be provided.
Note: An element E has namespace nodes that represent its namespace declarations as well as any namespace declarations made by its ancestors that
have not been overridden in E's declarations, the default
namespace if it is non-empty, and the declaration of the prefix
Note: This specification supports the recent XML plenary decision to deprecate relative namespace URIs as follows: implementations of XML canonicalization MUST report an operation failure on documents containing relative namespace URIs. XML canonicalization MUST NOT be implemented with an XML parser that converts relative URIs to absolute URIs.
Character content is represented in the XPath data model with text nodes. All consecutive characters are placed into a single text node. Furthermore, the text node's characters are represented in the UCS character domain. The XML canonicalization method does not perform character model normalization (see explanation in Section 4). However, the XML processor used to prepare the XPath data model input is REQUIRED to use Unicode Normalization Form C [NFC, NFC-Corrigendum] when converting an XML document to the UCS character domain from any encoding that is not UCS-based (currently, UCS-based encodings include UTF-8, UTF-16, UTF-16BE, and UTF-16LE, UCS-2, and UCS-4).
Since XML canonicalization converts an XPath node-set into a canonical form, the first parameter MUST either be an XPath node-set or it must be converted from an octet stream to a node-set by performing the XML processing necessary to create the XPath nodes described above, then setting an initial XPath evaluation context of:
and evaluating the following default expression:
|Comment Parameter Value||Default XPath Expression|
The expressions in this table generate a node-set containing every node of the XML document (except the comments if the comment parameter value is false).
If the input is an XPath node-set,
then the node-set must explicitly contain every node to be rendered
to the canonical form. For example, the result of the XPath expression
id("E") is a node-set containing only the node corresponding
to the element with an ID attribute value of "E". Since none of its
descendant nodes, attribute nodes and namespace nodes are in the set,
the canonical form would consist solely of the element's start and
end tags, less the attribute and namespace declarations, with no internal
content. Section 3.7 exemplifies
how to serialize an identified element along with its internal content,
attributes and namespace declarations.
Although an XPath node-set is defined to be unordered, the XPath 1.0 Recommendation [XPath] defines the term document order to be the order in which the first character of the XML representation of each node occurs in the XML representation of the document after expansion of general entities, except for namespace and attribute nodes whose document order is application-dependent.
The XML canonicalization method processes a node-set by imposing the following additional document order rules on the namespace and attribute nodes of each element:
Lexicographic comparison, which orders strings from least to greatest alphabetically, is based on the UCS codepoint values, which is equivalent to lexicographic ordering based on UTF-8.
The XPath node-set is converted into an octet stream, the canonical form, by generating the representative UCS characters for each node in the node-set in ascending document order, then encoding the result in UTF-8 (without a leading byte order mark). No node is processed more than once. Note that processing an element node E includes the processing of all members of the node-set for which E is an ancestor. Therefore, directly after the representative text for E is generated, E and all nodes for which E is an ancestor are removed from the node-set (or some logically equivalent operation occurs such that the node-set's next node in document order has not been processed). Note, however, that an element node is not removed from the node-set until after its children are processed.
The result of processing a node depends on its type and on whether or not it is in the node-set. If a node is not in the node-set, then no text is generated for the node except for the result of processing its namespace and attribute axes (elements only) and its children (elements and the root node). If the node is in the node-set, then text is generated to represent the node in the canonical form in addition to the text generated by processing the node's namespace and attribute axes and child nodes.
NOTE: The node-set is treated as a set of nodes, not a list of subtrees. To canonicalize an element including its namespaces, attributes, and content, the node-set must actually contain all of the nodes corresponding to these parts of the document, not just the element node.
The text generated for a node is dependent on the node type and given in the following list:
xmlns=""if and only if the following conditions are met:
The latter condition eliminates unnecessary occurrences of
xmlns="" in the canonical form since an element only receives
xmlns="" if its default namespace is empty and if
it has an immediate parent in the canonical form that has a non-empty
default namespace. To finish processing L, simply process
every namespace node in L, except omit namespace node
with local name
xml, which defines the
xml prefix, if its string value is
xmlnsfor the text of the local name in place of the empty local name (in XPath, the default namespace node has an empty URI and local name).
&, all open angle brackets (<) with
<, all quotation mark characters with
", and the whitespace characters #x9, #xA, and #xD, with character references. The character references are written in uppercase hexadecimal with no leading zeroes (for example, #xD is represented by the character reference
&, all open angle brackets (<) are replaced by
<, all closing angle brackets (>) are replaced by
>, and all #xD characters are replaced by
<?), the PI target name of the node, a leading space and the string value if it is not empty, and the closing PI symbol (
?>). If the string value is empty, then the leading space is not added. Also, a trailing #xA is rendered after the closing PI symbol for PI children of the root node with a lesser document order than the document element, and a leading #xA is rendered before the opening PI symbol of PI children of the root node with a greater document order than the document element.
<!--), the string value of the node, and the closing comment symbol (
-->). Also, a trailing #xA is rendered after the closing comment symbol for comment children of the root node with a lesser document order than the document element, and a leading #xA is rendered before the opening comment symbol of comment children of the root node with a greater document order than the document element. (Comment children of the root node represent comments outside of the top-level document element and outside of the document type declaration).
The QName of a node is either the local name if the namespace prefix string is empty or the namespace prefix, a colon, then the local name of the element. The namespace prefix used in the QName MUST be the same one which appeared in the input document.
Some applications require the ability to create a physical representation for an XML document subset (other than the one generated by default, which can be a proper subset of the document if the comments are omitted). Implementations of XML canonicalization that are based on XPath can provide this functionality with little additional overhead by accepting a node-set as input rather than an octet stream. The processing of an element node E MUST be modified slightly when an XPath node-set is given as input and some of the element's ancestors are omitted from the node-set. This is necessary because omitted nodes SHALL not break the inheritance rules of inheritable attributes [C14N-Issues] defined in the xml namespace.
[Definition:] Simple inheritable attributes are attributes
that have a value that requires at most a simple redeclaration. This
redeclaration is done by supplying a new value in the child axis.
The redeclaration of a simple inheritable attribute A contained in one of E's ancestors is done by supplying
a value to an attribute Ae inside E with
the same name. Simple inheritable attributes are
The method for processing the
attribute axis of an element E in the node-set is hence
enhanced. All element nodes along E's ancestor axis
are examined for the nearest occurrences of simple inheritable attributes
in the xml namespace, such as
xml:space (whether or not they are in the node-set). From this list of attributes,
any simple inheritable attributes that are already in E's attribute axis (whether or not they are in the node-set) are removed.
Then, lexicographically merge this attribute list with the nodes of E's attribute axis that are in the node-set. The result
of visiting the attribute axis is computed by processing the attribute
nodes in this merged attribute list.
xml:id attribute is not a simple inheritable attribute and no processing
of these attributes is performed.
xml:base attribute is not a simple inheritable attribute and requires special
processing beyond a simple redeclaration. Hence the processing of E's attribute axis needs to be enhanced further. A "join
URI" function is used for
xml:base fix up, which takes
any URI (Base) from an ancestor and joins a relative URI of E (R) (in most cases after the last slash) of the former
and then normalizes the result. We describe here a simple method for
providing this functionality similar to that found in sections 5.2.1,
5.2.2. and 5.2.4. of RFC 3986 with the following
This function may also be called with the URI to be fixed
up (R) being null (i.e. when no
xml:base attribute exists
in E) or empty "" (
xml:base=""). The base
URI (Base) may also be unknown in which case the Algorithm is performed
with Base.scheme = null, Base.authority = null, Base.path = "" and
Base.query = null.
Given this "join URI" function for
xml:base fix up the processing of the attribute axis of an
element E in the node-set will be enhanced further.
The element nodes along E's ancestor axis are now examined
for all occurrences of
xml:base, that have been omitted
(i.e. they are not in the node-set). Let E be an element
in the node set whose ancestor axis contains successive elements En...E1 (in reverse document order) that
are omitted and E=En+1 is included. Then
fix-up is only performed if at least one of E1 ... En has an
xml:base attribute. In that case
let X1 ... Xm be the values of the
xml:base attributes on E1 ... En+1 (in document order, from outermost to innermost, m <= n+1). The sequence of values is reduced
in reverse document order to a single value by first combining Xm with Xm-1, then the result with Xm-2, and so on by calling the "join URI" function described
previously until the new value for E's
xml:base attribute remains. The result may also be null or empty (
xml:base="") in which case
xml:base MUST NOT be rendered.
Then, lexicographically merge this fixed up attribute with the nodes of E's attribute axis that are in the node-set. The result of visiting the attribute axis is computed by processing the attribute nodes in this merged attribute list.
the XML namespace other than
xml:space MUST be processed
as ordinary attributes.
The examples in this section assume a non-validating processor, primarily so that a document type declaration can be used to declare entities as well as default attributes and attributes of various types (such as ID and enumerated) without having to declare all attributes for all elements in the document. As well, one example contains an element that deliberately violates a validity constraint (because it is still well-formed).
|Canonical Form (uncommented)||
|Canonical Form (commented)||
Note: In this example, the input document and canonical form are identical. Both end with '>' character.
Note: Some start tags in the canonical form are very long, but each start tag in this example is entirely on a single line.
a:attr because the primary key is namespace URI not namespace
the default namespace is not applied to unqualified attributes (so
the namespace URI for
attr2 is empty).
Note: The last element,
normId, is well-formed
but violates a validity constraint for attributes of type ID. For
testing canonical XML implementations based on validating processors,
remove the line containing this element from the input and canonical
form. In general, XML consumers should be discouraged from using this
feature of XML.
Note: Whitespace character references other than   are not affected by attribute value normalization [XML].
Note: In the canonical form,
the value of the attribute named
attr in the element
norm begins with a space, an apostrophe (single quote), then four spaces before the first character reference.
expr attribute of the second
compute element contains no line breaks.
|Canonical Form (uncommented)||
Note: The content of the doc element is NOT the string #xC2#xA9 but rather the two octets whose hexadecimal values are C2 and A9, which is the UTF-8 encoding of the UCS codepoint for the copyright sign (©).
|Document Subset Expression||
xmlnamespace in document subsets
Note: In the document subset expression, the subexpression
(//. | //@* | //namespace::*) selects all nodes in the input
document, subjecting each to the predicate expression in square brackets.
The expression is true for
e1 and its implicit namespace
nodes, and it is true if the element identified by E3 is in the
ancestor-or-self path of the context node (such that ancestor-or-self
stays the same size under union with the element identified by E3).
Note: The canonical form contains no line delimiters.
|Document Subset Expression||
This section discusses a number of key decision points as well as a rationale for each decision. Although this specification now defines XML canonicalization in terms of the XPath data model rather than XML Infoset, the canonical form described in this document is quite similar in most respects to the canonical form described in the January 2000 Canonical XML draft [C14N-20000119]. However, some differences exist, and a number of the subsections discuss the changes.
The XML declaration, including version number and character encoding is omitted from the canonical form. The encoding is not needed since the canonical form is encoded in UTF-8. The version is not needed since the absence of a version number unambiguously indicates XML 1.0.
Future versions of XML will be required to include an XML declaration to indicate the version number. However, canonicalization method described in this specification may not be applicable to future versions of XML without some modifications. When canonicalization of a new version of XML is required, this specification could be updated to include the XML declaration as presumably the absence of the XML declaration from the XPath data model can be remedied by that time (e.g. by reissuing a new XPath based on the Infoset data model).
The Unicode standard [Unicode] allows multiple different representations of certain "precomposed characters" (a simple example is "ç"). Thus two XML documents with content that is equivalent for the purposes of most applications may contain differing character sequences. The W3C is preparing a normalized representation [CharModel]. The C14N-20000119 Canonical XML draft used this normalized form. However, many XML 1.0 processors do not perform this normalization. Furthermore, applications that must solve this problem typically enforce character model normalization at all times starting when character content is created in order to avoid processing failures that could otherwise result (e.g. see example from Cowan). Therefore, character model normalization has been moved out of scope for XML canonicalization. However, the XML processor used to prepare the XPath data model input is required (by the Data Model) to use Normalization Form C [NFC, NFC-Corrigendum] when converting an XML document to the UCS character domain from any encoding that is not UCS-based (currently, UCS-based encodings include UTF-8, UTF-16, UTF-16BE, and UTF-16LE, UCS-2, and UCS-4).
The C14N-20000119 Canonical XML draft placed a #xA after each PI outside of the document element as well as a #xA after the end tag of the document element. The method in this specification performs the same function except for omitting the final #xA after the last PI (or comment or end tag of the document element). This technique ensures that PI (and comment) children of the root are separated from markup by a line feed even if root node or the document element are omitted from the output node-set.
The C14N-20000119 Canonical XML draft described a method for rewriting namespace prefixes such that two documents having logically equivalent namespace declarations would also have identical namespace prefixes. The goal was to eliminate dependence on the particular namespace prefixes in a document when testing for logical equivalence. However, there now exist a number of contexts in which namespace prefixes can impart information value in an XML document. For example, an XPath expression in an attribute value or element content can reference a namespace prefix. Thus, rewriting the namespace prefixes would damage such a document by changing its meaning (and it cannot be logically equivalent if its meaning has changed).
More formally, let D1 be a document containing an XPath in an attribute value or element content that refers to namespace prefixes used in D1. Further assume that the namespace prefixes in D1 will all be rewritten by the canonicalization method. Let D2 = D1, then modify the namespace prefixes in D2 and modify the XPath expression's references to namespace prefixes such that D2 and D1 remain logically equivalent. Since namespace rewriting does not include occurrences of namespace references in attribute values and element content, the canonical form of D1 does not equal the canonical form of D2 because the XPath will be different. Thus, although namespace rewriting normalizes the namespace declarations, the goal eliminating dependence on the particular namespace prefixes in the document is not achieved.
Moreover, it is possible to prove that namespace rewriting is harmful, rather than simply ineffective. Let D1 be a document containing an XPath in an attribute value or element content that refers to namespace prefixes used in D1. Further assume that the namespace prefixes in D1 will all be rewritten by the canonicalization method. Now let D2 be the canonical form of D1. Clearly, the canonical forms of D1 and D2 are equivalent (since D2 is the canonical form of the canonical form of D1), yet D1 and D2 are not logically equivalent because the aforementioned XPath works in D1 and doesn't work in D2.
Note that an argument similar to this can be leveled against the XML canonicalization method based on any of the cases in the Limitations, the problems cannot easily be fixed in those cases, whereas here we have an opportunity to avoid purposefully introducing such a limitation.
Applications that must test for logical equivalence must perform more sophisticated tests than mere octet stream comparison. However, this is quite likely to be necessary in any case in order to test for logical equivalencies based on application rules as well as rules from other XML-related recommendations, working drafts, and future works.
The C14N-20000119 Canonical XML draft alternated between namespace declarations and attribute declarations. This is part of the namespace prefix rewriting scheme, which this specification eliminates. This specification follows the XPath data model of putting all namespace nodes before all attribute nodes.
Unnecessary namespace declarations are not made in the canonical form. Whether for an empty default namespace, a non-empty default namespace, or a namespace prefix binding, the XML canonicalization method omits a declaration if it determines that the immediate parent element in the canonical form has an equivalent declaration in scope. The root document element is handled specially since it has no parent element. All namespace declarations in it are retained, except the declaration of an empty default namespace is automatically omitted.
Relative to the method of simply rendering the entire namespace context of each element, implementations are not hindered by more than a constant factor in processing time and memory use. The advantages include:
xmlns=""from canonical forms of applications that may not even use namespaces, or support them only minimally.
Note that in document subsets, an element with omissions from its ancestral element chain will be rendered to the canonical form with namespace declarations that may have been made in its omitted ancestors, thus preserving the meaning of the element.
e3in the following examples is not namespace qualified, we cannot tell the difference between
<e1 xmlns="a:b"><e2 xmlns=""><e3/></e2></e1>versus
<e1 xmlns="a:b"><e2><e3 xmlns=""/></e2></e1>. All we know is that
e3was not namespace qualified on input, so we preserve this information on output if
e2is omitted so that
e3does not take on the default namespace qualification of