I have submitted a request for enhancement (RFE) to restore the DOORS 7 and DOORS 8 feature that allowed DXL to modify the attributes of deleted objects. Members of the developer community who would like to see this extremely useful feature restored are asked to please vote on the RFE at http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/rfe/execute?use_case=viewRfe&CR_ID=40939.
I have confirmed that DXL could modify the attributes of deleted objects in DOORS 7 and DOORS 8, dating back to the DOORS 7.1 release on May 17, 2004. I verified such by writing DXL code and having it successfully modify attributes of deleted objects on DOORS 7 and DOORS 8 platforms. It is unknown if this feature worked in DOORS 6 and earlier because I couldn't locate any users still using these versions. However, there is no reason to suspect that this feature did not exist in DOORS dating all the way back to its original deployment by Telelogic (originators of DOORS) in 1999.
However, the exact same DXL that worked perfectly fine on DOORS 7 and DOORS 8 platforms does not work in DOORS 9. IBM says that it was a "bug" that allowed it to work in earlier versions of DOORS before IBM bought the product from Telelogic.
IBM had a TechNote 1412273 that clearly stated that the inability of DXL to modify attributes of deleted objects is a bug that would be fixed in DOORS 188.8.131.52. When I contacted IBM Technical Support to say that the bug wasn't fixed in DOORS 9.3, they said that the TechNote was in error, it wasn't a bug, and then promptly deleted the TechNote from their web site.
IBM's logic is that users should not be able to modify deleted objects. However, that decision should be left to the user, not IBM. Telogic allowed the user to make that decision prior to being acquired by IBM. DOORS dating back at least five years and possibly 10 years before the IBM acquisition allowed this.