external parsed entites (was: A unique ID question ?)

David Brownell david-b at pacbell.net
Wed Nov 10 22:49:11 GMT 1999

Having just been suffering through a DOM implementation
that actually exposes EntityReference nodes, with no way
to turn them off and no utilities to get rid of them,
I'd quite gladly abolish them from DOM ... ;-)

All they seem to be good for in DOM is to trip over, since
any algorithm working on the essential data model for XML
(elements, attributes, text, PIs) needs special casing to
deal with EntityReference nodes (in content or attributes).

Algorithms which are easily expressed in terms of a few
fingers' worth of simple types get very complex when they
need to be updated to address EntityReferences ... and
my own usage happens never to care about such physical
structures.  I just need to see the a logical structure;
details like where data came from at some earlier stage
of processing are a distraction, and a waste of time.

In particular, the notion of readonly children seems to
exist only to prevent applications from manipulating data.
Look but don't touch -- no good when touching is what you
need to do.

That's not specific to _external entities_ ... the problem
exists for all component boundaries that aren't relevant to
the application being developed.  Internal entities have
the problem, as would other kinds of boundaries (using XLink,
SUBDOC, or whatever).

Clearly I'm about to write some code to remove all such
noise from any DOM that tries to inflict it on me!!

- Dave

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