XML::Rules can make them less arbitrary. It'll let you specify just what to remember from each tag and how or how to transform the data of that tag (and the stuff you remembered from the child tags). God knows, maybe you'll like that style. There's quite a few examples on this site.
See (RFC) XML::Rules - yet another XML parser, (RFC) XML::TransformRules, xml::twig gathering all element and att and its value question, Re^2: Apache +XML parsing, Re^3: XML::DOM - NOT_FOUND_ERR, Swapping xml elements from an external file?, ...
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