Binary XML == "spawn of the devil" ?
Since this seems to be "old permathread week" at xml-dev, let's revisit another ...I had been waiting for the W3C to publicize the upcoming Binary XML workshop before talking about it on xml-dev, but the meme is loose in the wild thanks to Marc Hadley (http://weblogs.java.net/pub/wlg/263) and Elliotte Rusty Harold (http://www.ibiblio.org/xml/) Apparently the announcement will be made publicly readable "real soon now" (presumably the delay was to give dues paying W3C members a bit of a head start), and my understanding is that non-W3C members will be allowed to present position papers and attend if they are accepted. Elliote's commentary actually echos the disclaimers at the top of the (still private) meeting announcement, and a deeply rooted sentiment in parts of the W3C that this whole idea is the "spawn of the devil" (quoting literally from some very well known people who can identify themselves if they wish!). Elliotte makes a couple of points that illustrate very clearly what is at stake here: "Some developers either don't believe or don't get XML's value proposition of a compatible, interoperable, editable, text format." - I suspect that everyone believes that, but some see it as only one dimension of a multi- dimensional value space, and others see it as a sine qua non. "They falsely believe that binary formats are significantly faster or smaller than XML, which is almost never true in practice" - AFAIK, that's exactly what the workshop is trying to determine: What is the evidence that 'binary XML' can be faster or smaller in realistic scenarios. My understanding (from a lot of inputs, most of which I can't discuss) is that the "bloat" issue is a red herring because gzip works wonderfully on XML text, but that there is an approximately one order of magnitude processing overhead of XML compared with the previous generation of RPC, asynchronous messaging, and EDI technology. An order of magnitude here, and a recession there, and soon you've got problems that Moore's Law doesn't solve anytime soon. "Worse yet, some vendors are deliberately trying to lock developers into their patented, closed, binary, "XML" formats" -- Perhaps, but again the whole point of the workshop is to determine whether an open standard would be useful in preventing this scenario *if* tangible benefits can be demonstrated. I think there are a lot more vendors who realize that various aspects of XML's text format cause significant overhead, but won't even think about alternatives unless there is some standardization to allow interoperability. FWIW, that describes my employer's position [or rather, the consensus of us geeks who have looked into the matter, obviously not the "official" company line]. "The binary formats actually already exist, and the market has ignored them with a resounding silence. They have achieved no traction and no interest in the community." -- Interesting point ... I don't see it this way, but would love to see some discussion about it. " These are toxic technologies that serve no one's interests. They significantly compromise the XML promise of interoperable, interchangeable data that can be processed by a host of free, simple, readily available tools." -- The main counter-argument that I'm seeing is that XML-based projects/applications are having a hard time making the transition from "concept proven" to "actually deployed" in mainstream, non-early-adopter businesses. "Bloated" and "sluggish" are frequently used at least in the recent trade press articles slamming XML, and AFAIK this stems at least in part from from the problems real people are seeing when they plan to scale up a proof-of-concept XML project to a "bet the business" proposition. I agree that only a small minority of "XML" users will need to exchange binary infoset serializations, but we will *all* benefit by having a growth path from free/simple/text tools to industrial-strength "bet the business on" technologies. Anyway, flame away .... I need to figure out what to say in my position paper :-) --
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