why elements in XML can’t be numbers
A man wanted to make the numbers be the tag identifiers. Nope. Not allowed. He asked in the xml-doc mailing list why. My answers follows.
Before reading it, check the original letter. If ready, let's go.
On Sat, 09 Apr 2005 01:19:02 -0400 "Thomas J. Hruska"
Let's say I want a numbered list in XML to contain data. The natural thing to do is to make the numbers be the tag identifiers as part of a parent group.
It depends. For me it's very unnatural. Numbers shouldn't be in XML,
they are to be calculated by a visualisation/transformation agent.
Nope. Not allowed. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
(This is a really _simple_ example of my main scenario)< ?xml version="1.0" standalone="yes"?> <World> <Widgets> <Count>15< <Count> <1>...some data...</1> <2>...some data...</2> <3>...some data...</3> ...You get the idea... </Widgets> </World>
What _was_ the W3C (ir)rationality behind the idea of requiring element names to start with a letter?
One of the design goals for XML was "XML shall be compatible with SGML", and SGML works so.
More, having a programming background, it's quite natural to avoid literals which start with a number. It's because allowing this limits flexibility in different tools.
For example, consider the following XPaths:
The former selects elements "aaa" which have a child "bbb", the latter selects the first element "aaa".
If we allow "1" as an element name, how to interpret the following:
Is it "Widgets" which have a child "1" or is it the first "Widget"?