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   When to use attributes vs. elements

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  • From: peter@weblogic.com (Peter Seibel)
  • To: xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 08:17:25 -0800

Is there an XML philosophy (or an SGML philosophy for that matter) about
when to use attributes vs when to use elements when desigining a document
type. For example if I was writing a document type for representing (part)
java classes I could have something like:

  <!-- other more complicated stuff: definitely elements -->

or I could have:  

<class package="x.y.z" name="Foo">
  <!-- other more complicated stuff: definitely elements -->

Obviously I wouldn't use attributes, if the value had any structure to it.
But in a case like this is there some principle that would give some guidence?


P.S. Actually in the attribute case I think I'd do something more like:
<class name="x.y.z.Foo"> and let the application split apart the package
part from the base name; that way I could declare name to be ID since it
should be unique.

Peter Seibel          Perl/Java/English Hacker      peter@weblogic.com

                     Is Windows98 Y2K compliant? 

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