When is an attribute an attribute?

Tyler Baker tyler at infinet.com
Tue Apr 7 16:18:57 BST 1998

I asked the same question about 4 months ago concerning using attributes vs.
elements on this list and got some interesting answers.  In that time I have found
that for modeling objects a few principles come to mind.

If you are modeling an object which will never change at all (like a Rectangle)
then you would be best to do something like this:

<RECTANGLE x="0" y="0" width="0" height="0"/>

The rationale for this approach over using elements is that in most XML processors
you will get all of the attribute values at once that are necessary for generally
immutable objects like Rectangle's.  In a particular application of mine I found
that I would call setBounds() in java.awt.Component 4 times using the element
approach vs. only once with the attributes approach.

If you are representing something whose type may evolve over time like a user
profile in a database, then the element approach I feel works better in the long


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