3.8 Attribute Values

The value part of the attribute-value pair starts after the colon (:). It can immediately follow the colon, or spaces or tabs may be used to separate them. The format and content of a value is determined by the syntax definition for that attribute within that object type. The same attribute name may be used in more than one object type. Often, the syntax definition will be the same for an attribute regardless of which object type it is used in. For example, the “admin-c:” attribute appears in most object types with the same definition of its syntax. But sometimes the attribute may be defined in a different way in different object types. For example “status:” is used in inetnum, inet6num and aut-num objects. For each of these object types, “status:” has a different meaning with a different pre-defined set of values.

The value can contain some pre-defined keywords at any place within the value as determined by the syntax definition for that attribute within that object type. It can also contain references to other objects and free text. You can refer to other objects by using their primary key values. These references and the keywords have a precisely defined syntax. If the objects you refer to do not already exist in the database, you will see error messages and your update will fail. The free text has no syntax, but may only contain Latin-1 recognisable characters.

Some attribute values may contain spaces and tab characters to help make the information easier to read, as long as the syntax definition allows it. Note that spaces work better than tabs, as tabs can display differently on different machines.

If an attribute is included in an object, it must have a value unless the value is defined as free text. Even generated attributes, if included in the object, must have a syntactically valid value. The software may change this value, however, if the value is missing there will be a syntax error.

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