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Re: Six Reasons Not to use XML Attributes

  • From: Dimitre Novatchev <dnovatchev@gmail.com>
  • To: "Costello, Roger L." <costello@mitre.org>, xml-dev@l...
  • Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2012 07:51:40 -0800

Re:  Six Reasons Not to use XML Attributes
On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 7:51 AM, Dimitre Novatchev <dnovatchev@gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't find a single confincing argument listed.
>
> Actuallu, in most cases using attributes appropriately, *simplifies*
> an XML document.
>
> Not to speak that for big documents the savings in memory may be dramatic.
>
> Cheers,
> Dimitre Novatchev
>
> On Fri, Mar 2, 2012 at 5:51 AM, Costello, Roger L. <costello@mitre.org> wrote:
>> Hi Folks,
>>
>> 1.  XML attributes are specific to the XML data format. Other data formats,  such as
>>    comma-separated values (CSV) and binary, don't have it. That is, taking a (element)
>>    name with a (element) data value and then adding to that a (attribute) name/value
>>    pair is specific to XML.
>>
>> 2.  Avoiding XML attributes makes your language simpler.
>>
>> 3.  When people use XML attributes they typically assign them some meaning. For example,
>>    some people assign attributes the meaning "attributes are metadata." When you enter
>>    the land of meaning (and its partner, interpretation) you enter the land of chaos [1]. By
>>    eliminating attributes you have one less category of things to give meaning to and one
>>    less category of things to be misinterpreted.
>>
>> 4.  XML Schemas that do not use xsd:attribute can be used to logically model other data
>>    formats besides XML, using the Data Format Description Language (DFDL) [2].
>>
>> 5.  Attributes are never needed. For example,
>>
>>          The altitude is 12000 feet.
>>
>>    can be modeled using an attribute:
>>
>>         <altitude units="feet">12000</altitude>
>>
>>    However it can be equivalently modeled using just elements:
>>
>>        <altitude>
>>             <units>feet</unit>
>>             <value>12000</value>
>>        </altitude>
>>
>> 6.  Michael Kay says that attributes are unnecessary [3]:
>>
>>      XML is too large. Attributes are unnecessary, mixed content is
>>      unnecessary, namespaces are unnecessary: without these unnecessary
>>      concepts, XSD and many other things would have been much simpler.
>>
>>
>> Are there any more reasons not to use XML attributes?
>>
>> /Roger
>>
>> [1] http://www.xfront.com/The-edge-of-chaos-where-syntax-ends-and-interpretation-begins.pdf
>>
>> [2] https://www.ogf.org/dfdl/
>>
>> [3] http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/201112/msg00085.html
>>
>>
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>
>
>
> --
> Cheers,
> Dimitre Novatchev
> ---------------------------------------
> Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence.
> ---------------------------------------
> To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk
> -------------------------------------
> Never fight an inanimate object
> -------------------------------------
> To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the
> biggest mistake of all
> ------------------------------------
> Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
> -------------------------------------
> You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what
> you're doing is work or play
> -------------------------------------
> Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
> -------------------------------------
> I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.



-- 
Cheers,
Dimitre Novatchev
---------------------------------------
Truly great madness cannot be achieved without significant intelligence.
---------------------------------------
To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk
-------------------------------------
Never fight an inanimate object
-------------------------------------
To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the
biggest mistake of all
------------------------------------
Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
-------------------------------------
You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what
you're doing is work or play
-------------------------------------
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
-------------------------------------
I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it.


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