RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Erik James Freed ejfreed at infocanvas.com
Tue Sep 21 23:12:15 BST 1999

I believe that a good modeling approach would be to define 'exactly' what
mean by the difference between hair color and pet ownership. I would guess
that you would use words like: 'sharing', 'containment', 'separability',
or 'lifetime'.

Lots of time has been spent in data modeling trying to understand the
constructs to capture these nuances expressively and concisely. Its hard
Attributes versus elements is not, I would
claim, a particular elegant way to capture this, no matter how fuzzy one
feels about it. So the question is: how high level does XML want to be? One
consider it a low level implementation language, or a high level modeling
or both or something in-between, but that choice would drive both how to
handle data modeling
problems such as you are concerned with and also how to allow 'readability'
to effect
design decisions.

(I have not yet looked at Groves and perhaps this is the answer to some or
all of my wonderings...)


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Reynolds, Gregg [mailto:greynolds at datalogics.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 1999 12:52 PM
> To: 'Erik James Freed'; xml-dev at ic.ac.uk
> Subject: RE: RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC
> 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.
> Sincerely,
> -gregg
> (The opinions expressed in this screed should not be attributed to my
> employer, only to me.)

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