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RE: Images embedded in XML

Are you guys familiar with ASN.1 ?

I think it's what you're talking about.

-Wayne Steele

>From: Danny Ayers <danny@panlanka.net>
>To: "Al B. Snell" <alaric@alaric-snell.com>
>CC: The Deviants <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
>Subject: RE: Images embedded in XML
>Date: Sun, 08 Apr 2001 12:22:47 +0600
>I'll happily agree with you that XML does seem to have been a real success
>in documentation. I can't deny also that you could put together a
>self-describing binary format as you suggest. I would suggest that for such
>a format to be really useful, a tree-based model would be preferable to
>flat/relational model. You will need to convert between the serialized form
>and other forms (e.g. an in-memory tree), which if the format is not to be
>too rigid would in effect be a kind of parsing - though admittedly you 
>do it n times fasting than e.g. SAX. Ok, so if you put all this together,
>what would you be gaining? Say an order or two of magnitude of speed?  (and
>the same kind of gains for data storage) What would you be losing?
>Human-readability - I for one wouldn't lose any sleep over that.
>Compatibility with visual representation systems (XML/XSL/XSLT/XHTML etc.) 
>this is hugely useful for a not inconsiderable range of applications, but
>could be replaced by a standard set of conversion tools XML <-> XDF. A huge
>range of interfaces & systems...but we could live with that.
>So why not? One big reason - there isn't a commonly accepted standard. Ok,
>XML has major faults, SOAP is downright ugly etc. etc. but at least XML is
>spoken everywhere. A standard that can be built on top of and worked 
>We can solve the real-world problems, ok in a sub-optimal way, but surely
>that's all we really need. Do we want systems that will be 1000x more
>efficient tomorrow, or ones that may be slow and clunky but actually work
>with each other *today*?
>Maybe a binary format will come along and be accepted worldwide - but given
>the current climate I think it's highly unlikely in the near future. I 
>we'll be looking at XML & kludges for some time to come.
>Danny Ayers
><- -----Original Message-----
><- From: Al B. Snell [mailto:alaric@alaric-snell.com]
><- Sent: 08 April 2001 07:55
><- To: Danny Ayers
><- Cc: The Deviants
><- Subject: RE: Images embedded in XML
><- On Fri, 6 Apr 2001, Danny Ayers wrote:
><- >
><- > <- Hmmm, it'd be nice if XML was more compact, faster to
><- parse, and let you
><- > <- embed other data streams more easily - do we *have* to make it
><- > <- human-readable UTF-8?
><- >
><- > It wouldn't be extensible or markup - I suppose you could just
><- call it 'L'
><- It would be extensible, since any XML document could be encoded in it 
><- vice versa; and it'd be a data representation language as opposed to a
><- markup language being used for data representation... I'd prefer it to 
><- simple enough to work with to make it a "format" rather than an entire
><- "language", so let's called it XDF :-)
><- > generation and reading another. All are done with binary
><- formats in lots of
><- > systems, but to be able to use these completely across the
><- board you need to
><- > go to a pretty low common denominator such (e.g. plain text).
><- This is a bit of a myth... plain text is less of a common demoninator
><- than two's complement or unsigned binary integers, since plain text is
><- described in *terms* of this, and XML is far from a simple "lowest 
><- denominator" data format; it would take me a few minutes to
><- write a set of
><- routines in C to serialise and unserialise data in network byte
><- order, and
><- perhaps an hour at most to implement this for a self-describing
><- format. Compare that to how long it takes to implement an XML parser, 
><- the size and run time space/time requirements, and the size of the XML
><- documents compared to the "XDF" records...
><- Since parsing XML is complex, XML's adoption will be limited by the
><- development rate of XML parsers... I have heard a few people say "Ah, I
><- can write an XML parser in 10 lines of Perl", but those parsers don't
><- process entity references or handle namespaces :-)
><- > Either you do
><- > without compatibility between systems or you sacrifice a bit of speed.
><- Only a tiny smidgen... many CPUs can do network / host byte order
><- translation in a single instruction; compare that to the time
><- taken for an
><- XML parser to locate a text node by stepping through to find delimeters,
><- then removing the whitespace and converting from UTF8-decimal to an
><- integer in host byte order...
><- > There
><- > are compromises though - you could have a reference in your markup to 
><- > binary file (e.g. a .jpg) and the processor could receive this
><- separately
><- > from the markup, as in HTML browsers.
><- Yes, but this is a kludge; XML isn't good enough to realistically embed
><- binary objects inside it, so they have to go over a seperate connection
><- with some complex referencing mechanism.
><- XML is posing as something suitable for forming the core of many systems
><- of communicating software modules, yet it is incredibly unweildy 
><- to much simpler to use and implement techniques of precisely the same
><- expressive power; I don't want to start a flamewar, but is this
><- *really* a
><- wise application of XML? Shouldn't it stick with replacing
><- with XML/XSLT/XHTML and remain in the realm of documentation systems,
><- which it is much more applicable, than all this XML-RPC and SOAP
><- craziness?
><- >
><- > Cheers,
><- > Danny.

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