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   Re: When is an attribute an attribute?

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  • From: "J. Cupp" <jcupp@essc.psu.edu>
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Thu, 09 Apr 1998 15:23:18 -0700

Roy Tennant wrote:
> I've been trying to figure this out for a while with no success. 
> When and why would you choose one over another?
> <BOOK TITLE="The Call of the Wild" AUTHOR="London, Jack"\>
> <BOOK AUTHOR="London, Jack">The Call of the Wild</BOOK>
> <BOOK>
>    <TITLE>The Call of the Wild</TITLE>
>    <AUTHOR>London, Jack</AUTHOR>
> </BOOK>

I find it useful to think about the kinds of things you will want to do
with your new XML documents like indexing and sharing data with a
database. You may also be worried about disk space and the speed of
indexing & retrieval.

I always try to 1) Minimize redundancy in my data and 2) maximize the
utility of my data.

Since attrubutes are more strongly typed, I usually reserve them for
unique databse keys:

#1 <book id='callwild'><title>The Call of the Wild</title></book>

or a text string that I wish to sort by:

#2 <book id='callwild' sortform='Call of the Wild, The'><title>The Call
of the Wild</title></book>

If you're not worried about databases then you don't need the ID
attribute, but the SORTFORM attribute might come in handy. If you go
total database then you could have:

#3 <book id='callwild'/>

But doing this means you'd lose the ability to search on the book with
an indexer (but not with an SQL query). Plus, it's less person-readable.
Personally, I like #1.

Jason R. Cupp (jcupp@essc.psu.edu)
Deasy GeoGraphics
The Pennsylvania State University

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