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XPointer Basics
Uncover the third and final piece of the XML linking jigsaw with XPointer

| The Need For XPointer |

XPointer evolved as part of the work of the W3C's XML Linking Working Group, which is also responsible for XLink. While developing XLink, the Working Group realized the necessity of a language to address specific nodes - elements or character data - or sets of nodes within an XML document.

This wasn't the only requirement, however - the XML Linking Working Group also identified the following requirements of such a language:

1. XPointers should be based on "descriptive links" - links which identify locations by their context.

2. XPointers should be easy to read and understand; they should also be simple to interpret for browsers and Web servers.

3. It should be possible to create an XPointer for any specific point in a document. Similarly, it should also be possible to create an XPointer that identifies a specific range of data within an XML document.

4. XPointers should include the capability to restrict node selections on the basis of user-imposed constraints, in much the same way as XPath uses predicates.

5. Minor changes to an XML document - changes in whitespace, line breaks and formatting - should not "break" an XPointer.

XPath already existed to meet some of these requirements; however, it is primarily intended for use with XSLT rather than XML links, and therefore does not address some of the more specialized items in the list above.

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