(Apr 29 2004, 1.0-alpha-4 just released )
HiveMind gives the developer three options to process configuration point contributions and convert them into a list of objects.
Use the <conversion> element in the <configuration-point> definition.
Use <rules> in the >configuration-point> definition.
Not use <conversion> or <rules> elements in the <configuration-point> definition and obtain raw elements for manual processing of contributions outside of HiveMind.
This proposal applies to the third of above three options. When choosing to use the third option a list org.apache.hivemind.Element 's are returned by the HiveMindRegistry when the conbributions of a configutation-point are obtained. These xml elements are then used directly or are parsed externally to HiveMind. For those who have looked at the architecture of the eclipse platform, this is the only option available as <conversion> and <rules> elements do not exist in eclipse's plugin descriptors.
When a developer chooses this option they obviously have to deal with org.apache.hivemind.Element objects as HiveMind uses its own Element and Attribute objects and so no other xml processing library understands them. At the moment the org.apache.hivemind.Element object has no compatability methods enabling conversion to a org.w3c.Element or to string representation of the XML element. This means that working with org.apache.hivemind.Element objects requires an additional utility method to convert the Element to a string to enable it to be used with other xml libraries that the developer may be using.
Includewithin the org.apache.hivemind.Element object a minimal number of utility methods that allow the developer who chooses to recieve raw elements instead of using one of HiveMind's <conversion> or <rules> xml->obeject methods can do so more easily.
I would suggest minimaly a String asXML() method with returns a String representation of the Element. Other methods could be included obvoulsy although care should be taken to respect the YAGNI principal.
HowardLewisShip: It would not be impossible to create an adaptor that emulated W3C Dom, based on data obtained from HiveMind's Element.
In addition, if you have very sophisticated XML you want to parse, then put it in a seperate file and reference it as a Resource. You can then use the XML parser of your choice.
I agree with your comments but still believe a simple asXML() method which returns the string representation of the HiveMind element is not much to ask and very useful for people choosing to deal with this elements directly rather than using <conversion> or <rules> element in the module descriptor. Nearly all XML libaries such as dom4j, jdom etc have methods for returning a string representation of the element.
The org.apache.avalon.configuration package provides a Configuration object that's pretty easy to use. The HiveMind Element object can be enhanced to provide functions similar to the avalon package, such as getAttributeAsInteger (String name, int defaultValue). It also aids the transition from Avalon to HiveMind. I would volunteer to work on it if necessary.