RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Edd Dumbill edd at usefulinc.com
Tue Sep 21 21:30:04 BST 1999

On Tue, Sep 21, 1999 at 08:49:56AM -0700, Dave Winer wrote:
> I agree that attributes are an unfortunate and unnecessary redundancy in
> XML. 

and Erik James Freed wrote:
> I would conclude that attributes were a truly unfortunate decision, and
> we will live to regret it more in the future,

  Disturbing thought brewing: where would attribute-less XML leave XHTML?

(I'm not wanting to cross-pollinate the XHTML thread with this one, by
the way!)

Some interesting presumptions come up in this thread, and attitudes vary
widely dependent on whether or not one comes from an SGML background or

One point worth making is that readability and easy manual authoring is
very important for XML because of its application on the Web.  The best
HTML editor is still 'vi', and it can write XML too!  Take the SGML and
web heritage away and XML isn't any better than J Random

The decision facing the XML DOCTYPE creator about element vs. attributes
is just the same one as faces the creator of an SQL schema, if you take
attributes == columns and elements == tables.  Perhaps because XML
documents are so easy to create we sometimes don't take as much care
over them as we would a database schema?

So if you want your spec to be free to evolve as demand requires, and
you're only likely to use machine-generated XML, there's no real need to
use attributes, agreed.

However, attributes not considered harmful.

I share in Tim's observed warm fuzzy glow from attributes, and imho
there's a pleasing, near-linguistic, aesthetic to a well-placed


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