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   Re: [xml-dev] Co-operating with Architectural Forms

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Lars Marius Garshol <larsga@garshol.priv.no> writes:

> * Tim Bray
> | 
> | In my recollection, the main objection was that the AF syntax for
> | namespacing on attributes was seen as really unattractive.  
> And, truth be told, it *is* really unattractive.

So AFs were rejected by the W3C on esthetic grounds.
To this day, nobody has explained what's so
unattractive about the AF paradigm, or the precise
nature of the esthetics that found the AF solution
"ugly".  I've always felt that the beauty of an
engineering solution has to do with things like
modularity, minimality, and functionality.  If these
are the operative esthetic values, then the AF paradigm
is really quite beautiful, and its syntax is

Can someone please explain what, exactly, are the
operative esthetic values that cause the AF solution to
be perceived as ugly?  I simply don't see it, and I've
never seen it.

I have a theory, though.  I think it may have to do
with the fact that many people have an unexamined and
spurious idea about the generic identifiers (the tag
names) of elements.

It's a simple fact that the generic identifier is just
an attribute value, like all other attribute values,
except that it's the value of the one-and-only nameless
attribute.  If you react negatively to the foregoing
sentence, your blood pressure goes up, and you
vehemently expostulate that *THE GENERIC IDENTIFIER IS
NOT AN ATTRIBUTE VALUE*, then you probably think AFs
are ugly.  If you are such a person, I can only say to
you, as gently as possible, "In an element, whatever
isn't content must be an attribute."  Indeed, the
functionality of naming and of uttering names is most
naturally and easily done in attributes.  That's why
both SGML and XML are designed in such a way as to put
almost all kinds of identifiers *exclusively* in
attribute values.

There's no special reason why only one attribute should
be allowed to declare the type of an element.  Indeed,
there's every reason to allow elements to be instances
of multiple types!  There can be only one nameless
attribute, of course, but that's just a syntactic
shortcut.  (It would have been wasteful if XML had been
designed in such a way that every element had to begin
with the characters:



-- Steve

Steven R. Newcomb, Consultant

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