RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Tim Bray tbray at textuality.com
Tue Sep 21 18:05:15 BST 1999

At 08:49 AM 9/21/99 -0700, Dave Winer wrote:
>I agree that attributes are an unfortunate and unnecessary redundancy in
>XML. I was not that wrong-headed guy from Microsoft, but if I knew who it
>was, I would agree with him. BTW, a very interesting discussion is happening
>over on the XML-RPC DG. It's not an exact replay of the discussions we had
>last year. Dave

There's a repeating pattern here.  When I first discovered SGML (in 
1987) I quickly decided that attributes were an unnecessary and superfluous
redundancy, and single-handedly transduced the 572 MB of the Oxford English 
Dictionary text to reflect that viewpoint.  

I've noticed this pattern in others besides myself and Dave.  People who
come to generic markup with a lot of experience in technology don't see
why you need two different syntaxes for labeling information.

Years later, I got used to it.  From the programmer's point of view, there's
no difference in the degree-of-difficulty of extracting info from elements
and attributes.  And in the (large, important) subset of XML where the 
information is created and handled directly by humans, I have observed
that people get a warm fuzzy glow from attributes and find XML more readable
when some stuff is in attributes.  So... why struggle?  -Tim

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