When is an attribute an attribute?

len bullard cbullard at hiwaay.net
Wed Apr 8 01:41:51 BST 1998

Rich Koehler wrote:
> I've become fond of the method that Tim Bray used to distinguish between
> elements and attributes in his discussion of MCF
> (http://www.textuality.com/mcf/MCF-tutorial.html).  He writes, "...when
> the property has a simple value like a string, we put that in the
> content of the element; when the property's value is another object, we
> put a pointer to it in an attribute value and leave the element
> decribing the property empty."

Neat!  As others have pointed out, much depends not 
on the abstraction of the modeling technique, but on 
the method to be applied to the markup (ie, the application).  
If I want a tracking system for the person, 
the pointer techniques are good.  If 
I want to render a title or find all titles, then the 
explicit element declaration is good.

BTW:  All of this is why DTDs have worked well 
for so many years.  They are a contract between 
implementors and systems.

The funniest thing I've seen lately is a statement 
on the Microsoft XML site that XML gets rid of 
committees who design DTDs in favor of a 
more "organic" approach.  Lots of luck. ;-)


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