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   standard compressed XML format?

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  • From: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>
  • To: XML-Dev Mailing list <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 12:33:59 -0500

Is anyone doing any work on a standard compression format for XML documents?

I'm starting to get concerned about the volume of complaints I'm getting
from readers and folks in Web development forums who are starting to argue
that XML's verbosity is a problem, especially for things like transmitting
vector graphics information.  There are a lot of wasted bits in XML
documents - and of course in HTML and other text documents as well.

I'm not happy about the prospect of sending documents to browsers as .zip
or some other compressed format and making users go through multiple steps
to decompress and view the content.  I'd like to think that we could come
up with a compression/decompression algorithm for markup (maybe just XML,
maybe all text) that we can use transparently.  Ideally, it would be an
algorithm explicitly placed in the public domain, avoiding licensing and
legal battles.

Some folks have argued that this belongs in transfer protocols, while
others have argued that it should be a 3rd party function, like .zip and
.sit are today.  I'm not convinced by the first because so many competing
formats (gif, jpeg, flash, etc.) already include compression, and I'm not
convinced by the second because I don't think users are willing to
micromanage such a process.

It also has an impact on some of the discussions on the IETF-XML-MIME
discussion (see http://www.imc.org/ietf-xml-mime/ for archives and
information) because we're already discussing how best to mark information
as XML for possible generic processing.  If a compression standard emerged,
it might well have an impact on MIME types - and I'd like to see that
discussion start before we settle the MIME types for XML debate.

Any thoughts?  I like the fact that XML is verbose when I'm editing and
processing, but it's not so good in transmission.  I'd like to think that
there's a good _general_ solution that will let us have the best of both

Simon St.Laurent
XML Elements of Style / XML: A Primer, 2nd Ed.
Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical
Cookies / Sharing Bandwidth

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