XML Search Engine Holy War - Attributes vs. Elements

Duane Nickull duane at xmlglobal.com
Fri Oct 15 21:11:36 BST 1999

Hello All:

We are re-writing a major part of the GoXML Context-based Search Engine 
and are looking for input from knowledgeable members of the XML
Community on how we should handle Attribute names and values in the

Before answering this question,  I would like to invite anyone who
hasn't yet seen the demonstration, to visit the XML Search Engine at:


Demo at


A quick visit will help you understand our dilemma

The solutions we are currently contemplating are:

1. Ignore Attributes all together and index Elements and Character Data

The feeling is that the use of attributes should be restricted (by
authors) and used to allow other scripts/applications to either include
or preclude the element and resultant children nodes from some sort of
processing, displaying or further manipulation.  

2. Index attributes as text only and place the resulting text within the
character data portion of the index.

To expand on this, if you have the following XML:

<foo type="myfoo">
 <bar>This is foo for thought</bar>

We would allow searchers to find the words "this", "is" ... "type",
"myfoo" within the context of "foo" (Again,  I believe it is important
to visit the site and use the SE to fully understand how we index XML
before giving this too much contemplation)

3. We should index attribute values as ____________? names as _____?

(please tell us your opinions)

Another side note - I wish to formally thank all those who have
graciously contributed XML content to the index and have helped make the
GoXML.com Search Engine the success it is today.  Thank you.

Duane Nickull, XML Fanatic & Freerider  
| http://www.xmlglobal.com  /* Corporate site */    |
| http://www.goxml.com     /* XML Search engine */  |
| http://www.cartnetwork.com /* XML E-commerce */   |
|   "Really Cool XML Solutions - available today!"  |

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