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   Why XML over ASN Today (WAS RE: Another Question)

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  • From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <clbullar@ingr.com>
  • To: xml-dev@xml.org
  • Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2000 11:10:37 -0500

There is no tougher audience to have to sell or teach 
XML to than "to the metal" programmers.  Why? 
Well, as they look into it, they see the same tricks 
they have been using for years in one bag without 
all of the optimizations.  Again, this audience 
shares a singular philosophy, "Make it run, then 
make it run faster."  Performance has been the 
one requirement it is hard to argue with.  These 
guys know how to build Ferraris and Cadillacs 
and nobody does it better than they do.  

Our CEO (a darn good engineer) sat in my 
office and looked back at me two years ago and said, 
"Len, that's all very good but that will be slow and my customers 
will be unhappy and go elsewhere."   And so 
it goes.  Yet sometimes, fast enough, less complex, 
and cheaper win over "Cadillac systems".  Software  
like hardware is becoming a commodity market 
and that change is making people consider different 
tradeoffs. Playing well with others is one of those 
tradeoffs.  Performance can lose to utility.

Sometimes you need a racecar; sometimes you need a bus.

The tradeoffs to making a lingua franca for 
WAN systems have been a long time in the making. 
There is very little in XML that is unfamiliar to 
the HyTime and TEI or DSSSL veterans.  Fast cheap 
processors and memory stood between these designs 
and implementation for years.  That's past.  What 
is never past, by definition, is the zeitgeist.  
Until a technology can be embraced by some critical mass, 
it sits on the shelf or in the lab, a darling of the faster is 
better, elegance is key, crowd of well-educated, 
well-trained, but ultimately wallflower implementations  
whose time has not yet come.

Today, XML is the best of the worst, the ugly duckling 
just now endowed, Cinderella still smudged  
with cinders but fitting snugly into a beautiful 
gown and beloved of the young Prince. The fairy tale 
and the fairy godmother (The Zeitgeist) favor 
XML today.  That may change but it won't change 
in favor of more abstract, harder to understand, 
harder to sell systems.  Jean Paoli was right:  if 
it isn't easy, it just won't sell.

Len Bullard
Intergraph Public Safety

Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick JELLIFFE [mailto:ricko@geotempo.com]

It is interesting to speculate that the more that XML is hijacked by the
"XML is serialization" crowd, away from its roots as a humanistic (i.e.,
typist-oriented) text-based user interface, the less justification there
is for using XML rather than ASN.1

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