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New I'd be asking what the purpose is of the XML.
If it's an intermediate between two apps or databases, then pick the format that is easiest to process. Or, more likely, a compromise between easiest to generate and easiest to process. I imagine this is going to be more like your cross-reference format.

OTOH, if the XML data is more authoritative, I would say you can be more idealistic, which means the heirarchical format. I'd be wary of duplicated nodes with that, however, and how consuming code is supposed to deal with that.

Static Scribblings http://staticsan.blogspot.com/
New I agree
I agree, with the addition that if the data is being assembled to send between companies, then go with the format that is most easily understood, most clearly documented and which is least likely to have internal data inconsistencies. All of those criteria favor the nested version.

One additional advantage to the nested format is the data is physically closely associated. This reduces time going back and forth across the file/disk to find data, which can be the biggest delay when the file is too big to fit into memory.

     Recommended XML structure? - (drook) - (4)
         I'd be asking what the purpose is of the XML. - (static) - (1)
             I agree - (jay)
         Silly question - (S1mon_Jester) - (1)
             Hmm ... - (drook)

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