RFC: Attributes and XML-RPC

Leigh Dodds ldodds at ingenta.com
Wed Sep 22 16:51:34 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

I believe by metadata the original author meant information which should
be used as processing instructions or hints to the application processing
the document. I'd say that none of the items you list fall into that
so they're content.

The question of whether attributes *should* be storing this kind
of metadata seems to be another question entirely. If XML is a data format
then why clutter XML documents with processing hints? Couldn't this
data be captured separately in a second document and used alongside
the first? XLinks/Pointers could be used to refer to specific elements.

The 'metadata' is actually data for the processing application.
What happens if you change the processing application, or need more
or info? Say you started out with a simple attribute, but later on
down the line you need (say) the XML equivalent of a RDBMS data dictionary,
or similar.

Thats not a situation thats likely to arise with an in-house or closed
application and its documents. For something like XML-RPC I think
Dave Winer has taken the right view of being cautious.

Mixing metadata in with data seems IMHO to be (warm :) fuzzy modelling.
I'm certainly guilty of it.

Or am I completely nuts? :)


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