Re: Re: Where does the "nothing left but toolkits" myth come f
On Mon, 07 Feb 2005 17:35:12 -0500, Elliotte Harold <elharo@m...> wrote: > Binary file formats that call themselves XML, binary encodings of the > XML infoset, and the like, are broken and actively damaging to the XML > community. Let me summarize what I took away from numerous presentations and discussions of this subject at XML 2004. - There is a community of people who wish to leverage much of what the world thinks of as "XML", including SAX, DOM, XSLT, XSD, and the software and documentation support these things, but finds that in practice the XML syntax is too verbose (and/or resource intensive to process) in their domain. The most obvious example is wireless. There was a gentleman there from an Air Force contractor who made the point very clearly that the USAF would love to use XMLalmost everywhere for the enormous cost savings and quality improvements it offers over the current chaos of binary formats, APIs, and expensive hyper-specialsts. BUT XML text is 10-100 times as verbose as these (highly optimized for low-bandwidth communications) formats. Reinventing all the supporting specs and tools for their domain would be pointless, since SAX/XSLT/etc. do the job; what they want is simply an optimized serialization of the XML Infoset that the other specs work with. - There is a school of thought that a binary format would fit into "real" XML quite cleanly as a specialized encoding. I don't know enough about the deeper philosophy of the XML spec to know if this is a shameless exploitation of an ambiguity or a clever hack to do something unanticipated but well within the spirit of the thing. I personally don't see how a document <?xml version="1.0" encoding="Shift-JIS"?> [binary gibberish I have no software to process but others do] is qualitatively less correct or interoperable than <?xml version="1.0" encoding="W3CBinaryXML"?> [binary gibberish I have no software to process but others will] - Binary serializations of the XML infoset have already been created that are are capable of pretty decent compression or parsing performance. See the citations in the XML 2004 papers that are online. There are plenty of academic and quasi-academic papers on this. The interesting question is whether any can get sufficiently better compression AND performance (and a bunch of other attributes) than XML text to make it worthwhile for a wide range of uses. The Binary XML Characterization WG is defining the criteria by which this might be determined. - "Binary XML" is happening, whether that is an oxymoron it or not. There are well over a dozen format proposals that have been made publicly available, and probably dozens more that have not. For example, I recall Michael Rys saying at XML 2003 that SQL Server 2005 uses a proprietary binary encoding internally to store XML compactly and in a way that is efficiently processed with XML APIs or serialized into XML text. I suspect that many other XML DBs do something similar. I believe that some XML hardware middleware vendors do as well. Many of these are conceptually serializations of SAX event streams, so they have a deep "XML" heritage and easy integration with applications that work with SAX parsers. - The really contentious issue is whether one or more of these formats should be standardized, and who should do the standardization (e.g. W3C or the wireless industry). Alternatively, they might be best hidden within implementations of the existing standards, with XML 1.0 the norm when interoperability is needed, but all sorts of things will be on the wire in more tightly coupled environments. - Another point of contention is whether a binary XML encoding would undermine or enhance XML's interoperability and ubiquity. Elliotte, Uche, and others have vociferously made the "actively damaging to XML" argument; the other side argues that XML is *not* ubiquitous in the (rapidly growing) wireless domain and will not be until the efficiency problem is addressed. The wireless industry wants a W3C standard so that there is a single wireless Web rather than one fragmented across vendors and sites that support one or another.
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