CDATA by any other name... (was The raw and the cooked)

Lauren Wood lauren at
Sun Nov 1 16:58:56 GMT 1998

On 31 Oct 98, at 17:31, Rick Jelliffe wrote:

> Henry Thompson wrote:
> > The DOM made a serious mistake here in my opinion: it's
> > stranded in no-person's-land between raw and cooked, without being
> > either.  It's not cooked, because it gives you EntityReference and
> > CDATA nodes.  It's not raw, because it DOESN'T give you character
> > entity references.
> I think Henry means "numeric character reference", and this is the heart
> of the matter. A numeric character is not an entity, any more than a
> directly-entered character is. It is just an alternative encoding of the
> character, and should be of no more interest to a general API than the
> charset encoding of the document was. (I am putting words into his mouth:
> or does Henry mean the [XMLs4.6] predefined entities?)

This is the reason that the DOM doesn't give you access through 
the DOM to the numeric characters. It's perfectly acceptable for the 
application to give access if it's necessary for that application, but 
the DOM WG, after a *lot* of discussion, decided that the 
alternative encodings of a document were not up to the DOM to 

As for CDATA sections and the DOM - we decided that the DOM 
could not, in and of itself, decide whether the CDATA section was 
purely an escaping mechanism that the application (such as an 
editor) could use or not as it chose or whether the CDATA section 
had deeper significance. Making CDATA sections nodes means 
that the application can choose which is true. If the CDATA section 
is simply an escaping mechanism, then the data can be 
transformed before being passed to the DOM, in which case the 
DOM will never see a CDATA section. Should the CDATA section 
have some other significance, the parser can leave it as a CDATA 
section and pass it to the DOM, which will respect it.


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