[SML] Whether to support Attribute or not?

Clark C. Evans clark.evans at manhattanproject.com
Mon Nov 29 21:16:42 GMT 1999

On Mon, 29 Nov 1999, Sean McGrath wrote:
> The notion that elements are for information and
> attributes is, IMO, bogus.

I'm sorry. I don't understand what is bogus here.
Could you explain what you find so disturbing?
> Yes there are XML applications where attributes are
> used to "talk about" elements but I have seen, and
> created, many XML/SGML applications where this is
> not so.

In any given numerical analysis domain you don't 
always need to use the square root of -1.  And, in
some domains you can re-frame the problem to avoid
this "abominatoin".  However, there are many domains
in which the solution becomes horribly complicated
unless you use "complex" numbers.  It is funny how
a small increase in complexity at a fundamental layer
makes the algebra familar and comfortable at a higher

I'm not saying that this is a direct analogy, however,
there are domains which attributes are very useful
and mixing them with content seems very confusing.  
In any case, if SML were to drop attributes, and not
provide at least a non-recursive replacement, then
I think the solutions using the "simpler" standard
would be far more "complicated" than just using XML.

And, once again, I'm not sure at all about recursive
attributes... I'm just pointing out the possibility
and thinking out loud.  Sorry if this makes you unhappy.

Best wishes,


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