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List of comments on “XML Signature Syntax and Processing Version 1.1” (dated 18 October 2012)

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Comment LC-2721: here () function
Commenter: G. Ken Holman <gkholman@CraneSoftwrights.com> (archived message)
Context: 6.6.3 XPath Filtering Identifier: http://www.w3.org/TR/199...
assigned to Frederick Hirsch
Resolution status:

I'm resending this, as plain text, because the Web archive doesn't seem
to have stored the message properly...

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Fwd: Comment for XML Signature Syntax and Processing Version
1.1 Working Draft 18 October 2012 (re: here() function)
From: <edsimon@xmlsec.com>
Date: Fri, November 02, 2012 12:01 pm
To: "G. Ken Holman" <gkholman@CraneSoftwrights.com>,
public-xmlsec@w3.org

G. Ken Holman of Crane Softwrights (copied) has noticed an issue
(detailed below in Ken's email) with the definition of the here()
function in XML Signature. After Ken brought this to my attention, I
have been wondering if the namespace injection/wrapping issue [1] [2]
that Meiko and I investigated might be applicable to this issue (and
thus make it more important than just a "function not found" problem).


Ed

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-xmlsec/2009Dec/0000.html

[2] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-xmlsec/2010Dec/0005.html

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Comment for XML Signature Syntax and Processing Version 1.1
Working Draft 18 October 2012
From: "G. Ken Holman" <gkholman@CraneSoftwrights.com>
Date: Wed, October 31, 2012 7:00 pm
To: <edsimon@xmlsec.com>
...

Attn: Editors of XML Signature Syntax and Processing Version 1.1
Re: Working Draft 18 October 2012

Since version 1 of XML Signature there has been a glaring (to me)
error in the specification of the "here()" function, in that it was
never properly named using a namespace qualification.

Languages that use XPath typically assume that unprefixed function
names are functions in the XPath library and that functions outside
of the XPath library must be prefixed with a namespace qualification
of some kind. Certainly XSLT and XQuery impose this
constraint. Indirectly so does Schematron. Such a constraint has
not been a part of XMLSec.

The (low probability) issue is that who knows what future versions of
XPath might include in a function named "here" of its own? It would
be unavailable to users of XMLSec (or, worse, implement some
unexpected future semantic).

The (guaranteed probability) issue is that a general-purpose XPath
analyzer looking at the expression would flag the "here()" as a
syntax error because the unprefixed function is not part of the
standard library.

Standalone XPath processors may soon be available. Implementers of
XMLSec who want to use such a processor are going to be challenged
since the expression will trigger "function not found" errors when
analyzed.

But I acknowledge that there is already an established base of using
"here()" with XML Signature 1.0.

My thought is that "here()" could continue to be allowed for backward
compatibility, but would be deprecated from now on in favour of
something like "ds:here()" (where, of course, the prefix is
irrelevant but it is mapped to the signature namespace).

Then, a general-purpose XPath processor would look for the function
named "{http://www.w3.org/2000/09/xmldsig#}here()" in the set of
statically-defined function signatures provided by the application
invoking the XPath processor:

http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/REC-xpath20-20070123/#static_context
[Definition: The static context of an expression is the information
that is available during static analysis of the expression, prior to
its evaluation.] This information can be used to decide whether the
expression contains a static error. If analysis of an expression
relies on some component of the static context that has not been
assigned a value, a static error is raised [err:XPST0001].

http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/REC-xpath20-20070123/#dt-function-signature
[Definition: Function signatures. This component defines the set of
functions that are available to be called from within an expression.
Each function is uniquely identified by its expanded QName and its
arity (number of parameters).] In addition to the name and arity,
each function signature specifies the static types of the function
parameters and result.

http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/REC-xpath20-20070123/#id-function-calls
[Definition: The built-in functions supported by XPath are defined in
[XQuery 1.0 and XPath 2.0 Functions and Operators].] Additional
functions may be provided in the static context. XPath per se does
not provide a way to declare functions, but a host language may
provide such a mechanism.
...
A function call consists of a QName followed by a parenthesized list
of zero or more expressions, called arguments. If the QName in the
function call has no namespace prefix, it is considered to be in the
default function namespace.

http://www.w3.org/TR/2007/REC-xpath20-20070123/#dt-def-fn-ns
[Definition: Default function namespace. This is a namespace URI or
"none". The namespace URI, if present, is used for any unprefixed
QName appearing in a position where a function name is expected.]

Having the function name namespace qualified would allow the
expression to be rewritten in an XPath context without having first
to inspect the expression for the errant (to the XPath processor)
"{}here()" syntax. As it stands today, there is a burden on
implementation to prevent the "{}here()" function from getting to an
XPath library written as it is for fear of triggering a static error
"err:XPST0001".

I hope this is helpful.

G. Ken Holman
gkholman@CraneSoftwrights.com
http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/bio

--
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