[tei-council] Disambiguation of <ident> and <idno> (and also <gi>)

James Cummings James.Cummings at oucs.ox.ac.uk
Sat Nov 26 10:16:16 EST 2011

On 26/11/11 07:13, Martin Holmes wrote:
>>> ---------- <ident>    should be used for tokens such as variable
>>> names, class names, type names, function names etc. in formal
>>> programming languages. (It should not be used for element and
>>> attribute names in XML, for which the special elements<gi>
>>> and<att>    are provided.)
>>> <idno>    should be used for labels which uniquely identify an
>>> object or concept in a formal cataloguing system such as a
>>> database or an RDF store, or in a distributed system such as the
>>> World Wide Web. ----------

I don't mind these as definitions though they seem a bit discursive. I'd
move the parenthetical statement to a note/remarks section, along with
the examples 'such as...' there you could also distinguish between
idno/ident and cross reference.

>> I suggest that<idno>   be given precedence, since I imagine it's
>> more widely used.
> I don't really understand what "precedence" means here. If I've
> failed to disambiguate the two tags, then I should try again, but I
> don't think we should ever be in the position of saying "these two
> tags are basically the same, but you should prefer this one because
> we have a feeling that more people use it than the other one".

I think what Stuart means is that idno is the more general purpose 
element in this case which _could_ be used for things that might be 
considered idents, but that we have ident as an element for that. e.g. 
that ident = idno/@type='ident'. I'm not sure that entirely fits with 
your definitions though.

I'm wondering about the restrictions imposed by your idno definition. 
What I might think of as an id number might not *uniquely* identify 
something (it might identify a class or set of things? or be an id 
number at one point in time that is applied to different objects when in 
different contexts). I'm trying to think of anything I might want to 
provide an idno to which is not an 'object or concept', but failing. 
Part of me worries about the word 'formal'. I might have an idno for 
some ad-hoc system I've invented but be put off because it is not a 
'formal cataloguing system'.

I'm just trying to nit-pick here to see if things should be looser.


Dr James Cummings, InfoDev,
Computing Services, University of Oxford

More information about the tei-council mailing list