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   Re: element content vs. element attribute

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  • From: Sean Mc Grath <digitome@iol.ie>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Sun, 21 Dec 1997 13:55:03 GMT

[David Megginson]
>One problem, that will become more obvious when more XML tools are
>available, is that most WYSIWYMG (M="might" or "may") XML editing
>software will like show character data (element content) on the screen
>by default, but will show attributes only on request, possible in a
>pop-up dialog.

I suspect this comment is right on the money. I have never come across a way
of displaying
attribute data in an SGML editor that "felt" right.

For one job I was involved in, attribute editing was such a pain that we wrote
"ConvertAttrbutesToElements" and "ConvertElementsBackToAttriibutes"

SGML doc -> [ConvertAttributesToElements] -> SGML doc -> [Editing
Environment] -> SGML doc -> [ConvertElementsBackToAttributes] -> SGML doc.

The fact that this is doable in a lossless fashion suggests that the
attribute/element decision
is largely a product of taste and a pragmatic consideration of the tools you
intend to use.

As for the philosophical difference, I dunno. I suspect that a Bertrand
Russel or a Kurt Godel
or a Daniel Dennet or a Douglas Hofstadter could always rustle up a
counter-example for any
hypothesis. My head hurts and I am heading at full speed past the point
where I know what
I am talking about but if we take the data versus meta-data distinction --
Is "SayingSomethingAboutThisData" data or meta-data in this case:-

        <Foo SayingSomethingAboutThisData = "FALSE">

Sean Mc Grath
sean at digitome dot com

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