# 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.

# Split Values

In most cases, a value can be split over multiple lines. Each continuation line must start with a space, tab or plus (+) in column zero. Continuation lines do not include the attribute name.

An object cannot have a blank line inside it because this would mark the end of the object. A blank continuation line must start with the ‘+' sign in column zero.

An example of a correct continuation line:

address:  Singel 258

Note the ‘+' in column zero on the second, blank line.

Values cannot be split in the first attribute, which defines the object type, or in the primary key attribute(s). If this is done, the software will re-combine these attributes into a single-line value. The update will not fail.

When parsing an object, the software will internally recombine continuation line values into a single value for processing. The values from multiple lines are joined with a single space in-between them. Therefore, it is also not possible to split a value in the middle of a word or within any text string. The object is stored in the database with any valid split values.

# End-of-line Comments

In most cases, an end of line comment can be added at the end of a value. These start with a hash (#) and continue until the end of the physical line (a newline character ‘\n'). If a value is split over several lines, any or all of the lines may include an end of line comment. You cannot continue the comment on another line- these comments always stop at the end of the line in which they start. An end of line comment cannot start at column 0. It is possible to add end of line comments on several consecutive lines, which together form a block of text. However, for long comments, it is better to use the "remarks:" attribute.

admin-c: dw-ripe  # these NIC Handles
tech-c:  dw-ripe  # form a set of contacts
zone-c:  dw-ripe  # for this object

Any free form value cannot contain a hash (#) character, as this would be recognised as the start of a comment. Although the software does not process comments, in some situations it does strip off the comments before using the values.

If split values and end of line comments are used together, the software strips off the end of line comments before the split values are combined.

End of line comments cannot be added to the first attribute value, which defines the object type, or to the primary key attribute(s) value. If this is done the software will strip them off. The update will not fail. These comments are also not allowed on the "source:" attribute value. If one is added here, the update will fail.

Long, end of line comments or long, free form attribute values can cause problems. Some email clients automatically break lines at certain points. If your email client does this on an update message then your update will fail. It may not be obvious at first sight that this has happened. Fortunately, there are many other options for submitting updates if this problem occurs.

# List Values

Some attributes allow the value to be a list. This must be a comma-separated list with no spaces allowed. These attributes can be viewed in the Appendix.