[whatwg] Attribute for holding private data for scripting

Jon Barnett jonbarnett at gmail.com
Wed Apr 11 05:38:36 PDT 2007

> If you want structured data in this attribute, why not just use JSON?

That's an idea that crossed my mind as well.  I dismissed it for a few
- authors would have to entitize quotes and ampersands in their attributes,
which they're not used to doing with JSON normally.
- evaluating it would mean:
var obj = eval(myelement.getAttribute("_myjson");
which I don't like because I prefer to avoid eval at all costs.
- it further marries HTML with JavaScript, which is something I'd like to
see evolve and change in the future - something else widely supported, like
client-side Python is a personal dream.  Also, whatever attribute also needs
to have meaning (read: be easy to get to in the DOM) when your document is
processed by something other than a browser, such as PHP or Java.

You, yourself, could still format your custom data that way, but I don't
think it's a great idea to spec it that way.  And I guess it's already been
said that changing something in the DOM a good idea for this.

We just want to allow authors to continue to do something authors already do
without making validators complain.

The idea of allowing just any attribute that starts with _  (or x_) has the
best benefit - authors already do it, it's just a matter of making
validators not complain.
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