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That is the explanation some advocate. I think it is
brain candy for those who believe these features must
have some sound basis in science, math or practice.
IMO, attribute usage is largely stylistic and the main
reason the feature is preserved is to keep IDs
attached to the element they identify. Other means
for doing that are messier. The tacit presumption
Compromises made for a particular SGML application (HTML)
rankled some (including me, I don't like it as a
rationalization), but they were politically prudent.
My only problem with attributes is that they are
often misunderstood when object-oriented backgrounds
are applied to markup design; thus the field/attribute
impedance mismatch, and when used for dumps of
relational dbs such that rows are elements and
columns are attributes.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
I'm not sure where I got it from, but I seem to have this notion that
character data are what a human reader should see, while markup,
including attributes, is something of a hint to software.
There are characters in a document and (meta)information about the
characters. Some of those metadata can be predefined, e.g.,
html:title, and that leads to element tags; sometimes you need free
text, such as for an href, which leads to attributes.
So I see three things - text, predefined metadata and free-form
metadata. I can't immediately think of three more kinds of metadata
I'd want in a document.