RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Mark Nutter mnutter at fore.com
Wed Sep 22 15:58:39 BST 1999

At 12:48 PM 09/22/99 +0200, Carsten Oberscheid wrote:
>In a classical document markup environment, attributes are an
>important means to separate document content from metadata.

But when you're writing the DTD, how do you know what is "content" and what 
is "metadata"?  For example, if you have a genealogy DTD, and you're 
representing things like:

Biological father
Biological mother
Location where birth certificate is recorded
Place of birth
Date of birth

...and so on.  Which are content, and which are metadata?  It seems to me 
that there isn't any inherent distinction, but rather an arbitrary 
distinction is imposed by the designer at the time the DTD is written.

>  It is much
>easier to process (and eventually to ignore or filter, e.g. for
>displaying/editing content) additional information that is encoded in a
>different way than the document's content.

The only problem is that you are more or less locked in to the designer's 
original (arbitrary) designations regarding what's content and what's 
metadata.  If you want to come along after the fact and do some ad hoc 
processing (supposedly one of the advantages of XML), you may very well 
find that what's content and metadata for you isn't quite the same as what 
the original designer thought of as content and metadata.  At that point, 
the content/metadata distinction becomes a liability, rather than an asset.


Mark Nutter, <mnutter at fore.com>
Internet Applications Developer
FORE Systems
Some people are atheists 'til the day they die.

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at ic.ac.uk
Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/ and on CD-ROM/ISBN 981-02-3594-1
To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo at ic.ac.uk the following message;
(un)subscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at ic.ac.uk the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at ic.ac.uk)

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list