RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Dave Winer dave at userland.com
Tue Sep 21 18:46:37 BST 1999

> XML-RPC's simplicity is remarkable, and it's made it much easier to
> to people, I've found.  I don't know if lack of attributes is precisely
> why, but the approach overall seems sound.

Simon, thanks! Simplicity was *the* goal for XML-RPC, I believe it's the
result of leaving out things that we felt an HTML coder would find
confusing. No namespaces, no DTDs, no attributes. I think this way of doing
things has a place, esp since SOAP is so fully conformant with the latest
stuff from W3C. One method for full conformance, one method for

I don't know which approach is going to gain traction, or if they both will.
There are SOAP implementations coming online very quickly, and there already
are a bunch of implementations of XML-RPC. I think that SOAP defines a good
upperbound for XML-RPC. I'm glad it's there. It's also great to Microsoft
pushing this stuff too!

Anyway, about attributes, I'd like to save them for something super-powerful
when we understand how this stuff is being deployed. To me, it feels like a
dollar in the bank, that when the technology matures, we have a dividend we
can use somewhere down the pike.

Also, the discussion on the XML-RPC DG is centered around language-specific
hinting. What if you want to hint two languages, not one? What if each
language requires a set of configuration info? What if one language requires
a hierarchy of configuration info? (That's not hard to imagine, not at all.)

Attributes are for wispy little very optional things, if they are for
anything at all. I see that there's lots of room for deepening <struct>s for
example. The hierarchy in XML-RPC is so meticulously hierarchic so that we
could hang stuff off those trees in the future. This goes back to
discussions I had with Mohsen Al-Ghosein at Microsoft in March 1998. Once he
explained it to me I said YES, that's very cool, let's do it that way.

Now we're at the crossroads he imagined, and we've got some people telling
us to hurry up and there's no way I want to do that. That's why I brought
the issue over here, because people like Simon and Tim and Don Park are here
(and Tim Berners-Lee!), and you guys have been dealing with much more
complex stuff in arrangements of tagged text than we have. I think you
should have a crack at this and help us make the decisions. XML-RPC can
belong to XML-DEV as much as it belongs to anyone. But I really want to keep
its simplicity as the prime goal. Maybe this is a time to do a little work
outside the W3C, sort of a skunkworks thing, let's see what kind of barn we
can raise.


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