I have been working on a REST API using the excellent tools provided by Yii2. My problem was that I have to differentiate between empty values and null values. In other words, <elem></elem> is different from null as it represents an empty string. Also, although some use <elem/> to represent a null value it should still be interpreted as an empty string. In other cases, the absence of the element is taken to represent a null value, but this may create problem with some parsers.