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Re: Adam Bosworth Article - what does "direct access" mean?

read cobol files
Simon St.Laurent wrote:

> It's an understatement to say that I'm sick and tired of programmers and
> database developers trying to cram what XML does into their particular
> views of the world - and worse, to inflict those views on XML itself
> through a standards process gone rotten.

It's a fact of life that most programmers think in terms of the 
procedural logic they're trying to write and the user-visible effect 
they're trying to achieve.  The notion that programmers should put extra 
work into trying to achieve data interoperability has *always* been a 
tough sell.

There was a time when computers had "FORTRAN files" and "COBOL files" 
and FORTRAN programs couldn't read COBOL files, and a lot of programmers 
resisted moves towards a common filesystem format because they weren't 
having a problem.  Then there was a time when most OS filesystems came 
with a built-in record structure that you really couldn't get around, 
and if you wrote a sequence of bytes into a file it might come back 
different because of the record mechanics.  Selling Unix's world-view 
that a file is a place you write bytes into and then read them back was 
tough because the record view was less interoperable but handier for 
many application programmers.

XML is just another chapter in the same long story.  It usually turns 
out to be a win to make programmmers' lives more difficult by forcing 
them to deal with data as the data wants to be, not as their application 
wants to see it.  Usually they complain, and demand tools to make it 
easier to get at the data their logic demands.  Seems like a fair demand 
to me.

I personally am right now in the process of writing a bunch of perl code 
to read some XML and manipulate the data it represents and generate some 
web output, and I also found it irritating and tedious to extract the 
pieces I needed.  Doesn't mean that XML isn't the right way to store the 
upstream data, but it also doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to complain 
and ask for better ways to do it.

So up to this point, I'm fine with what Adam is saying. -Tim


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