RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Reynolds, Gregg greynolds at datalogics.com
Tue Sep 21 21:49:01 BST 1999

I can't resist chipping in my tuppence, since this touches on one of the
truly horrific aspects of the design of SGML and, yes, Groves.  (Feel free
to ignore my adjectives; I'm in a hyper bolic mood.)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Erik James Freed [mailto:ejfreed at infocanvas.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 1999 1:03 PM
> To: xml-dev at ic.ac.uk
> Subject: RE: RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC
> My thinking is that it is considered harmful to have two ways of doing
> such semantically equivalent things, because this can easily 

This is true; but it doesn't apply.  Attribution is not the same as
structure; the problem is not that we have two ways of doing essentially the
same thing, its that we try to model two essentially different things  in
the same way.  Getting rid of attributes fixes the wrong problem.  XML and
similar languages represent attempts to model the way we think, and its
pretty indisputable that the mind (well, the Western mind, in any case)
thinks about the world in terms of things, their properties, and their
relations to other things.  The warm fuzzy glow  Tim has observer comes, I
suspect, when people find they can think with an artificial language in the
same way they think ordinarily.  Or maybe it's the relief they feel when
they realize that the computer geeks have not rammed yet another round peg
through a square hole.

A man has red hair and a dog.  To suggest that his relationship with his
hair (or its redness) is no different than his relationship with his dog is,
well, shocking.  It's an outrage!  

> I would conclude that attributes were a truly unfortunate 
> decision, and we

Not the fact of attribution, but the horrible way in which it is modeled,
for which we can thank SGML.  "Groves" is even more monstrous in its
treatment of this.


(The opinions expressed in this screed should not be attributed to my
employer, only to me.)

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