RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Dave Winer dave at userland.com
Wed Sep 22 15:36:28 BST 1999

>>The "warm fuzzy" feeling you get from attributes may just be relief that
you don't have to type so much!  But that's an accidental consequence of
the fact that we have to write our XML by hand--a more automated process
would have no such feelings.  Attributes are a shortcut that make XML
easier to code by hand, at the cost of introducing a certain amount of
unavoidable ambiguity regarding how a given piece of data should be


Exactly right.

We trade off warm fuzzies for future expandability, when with a little more
thought and another layer, we could have both.

Sometimes software design requires this kind of insight.

In XML-RPC, you almost never look at the payload, and you never write it by

Other kinds of XML we do write by hand, and in those cases, attributes are
very welcome and nice.

But for the boiler-room applications, the ones that humans never type by
hand, you have to watch out for those trade-offs.


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