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   Re: [xml-dev] Typing and paranoia

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On Friday 06 December 2002 16:08, Frank wrote:
> On Fri, 2002-12-06 at 10:21, Alaric B. Snell wrote:
> > On Thursday 05 December 2002 23:35, Tim Bray wrote:
> >
> > In case you hadn't noticed, there was a lot of interoperability before
> > XML came around:
> Oh but there wasn't. If I understand Tim's standards, you have exactly
> one example, the Internet, and IIRC that was done as much by the heroic
> practice of porting running code from platform to platform as by
> actually having a spec to work from.
> > 1) The international telephone network
> Is hardware. The hardware guys spent most of the 19th century learning
> to build interoperable systems of increasing complexity. They managed to
> learn how, but then hundreds of EEs (including me) over the years seem
> to magically forget when we switch to software.

The software is far more complex than the hardware! And the point I was 
aiming at is that there are protocols and data formats involved; from the 
lowly framing on an E1 or T1 link up to the signalling codes used to 
handshake calls between countries and so on. Not to forget mobile phones, 
which can roam between countries using some kind of call redirection 

> > 3) Image file formats
>  A. generally only interoperate via lossy conversion,

Only if you are dealing with JPEGs and the like which are lossy as a 
*feature* to try and avoid passing around the less useful information...

> and B. don't really
> predate XML. Even you admit the TIFF nightmare, and as I recall 1998 I
> couldn't count on reliably opening an arbitrary jpeg or gif file.

The first widely used GIF spec is known as GIF87 after the year 1987, 
presumably when it was released...

TIFFs are broken, definitely; down with TIFF. But JPEG and PNG and GIF are 

> > 4) CSV and TSV
> Are completely useless in any human in the loop system, and are
> spectacularly brittle over time..

Hah! CSV files saved from Lotus 123 back in 1990 will load into Excel quite 
fine today...

> > 5) Zip files
> That's a compression format. Garbage Compressed, Garbage Uncompressed.
> Same for Gold.

But you get the same garbage out at the other end. The ZIP file format takes 
a directory structure, packs it up and compresses the files, and manages to 
resurrect that lot at the other end.

It is *not* 'just about compressing bytes', otherwise I would have spoken of 
deflate instea. It's something pretty akin to XML... a labelled tree of 
arbitrary text (or non-text) strings :-)

> > 6) Filesystems
> Interoperable filesystems? We have a communication problem here. Do you
> mean NFS and Samba? 

Well, those too if you want.

> Or do you mean ISO 9660, which is the only thing
> close to an interoperable FS I can think of, and it has multiple
> incompatible extensions to bring it's Lowest Common Denominator
> capabilities into the 1990s.

I mean FAT for a start, I've used FAT floppies without hassle in Acorns, Unix 
machines, DOS machines, Windows machines, you name it.

ISO 9660, too, although the extensions are a mess.

> > ...
> >
> > Throw off those rose tinted glasses! We were interoperating quite happily
> > before XML came along, thanks. Maybe you spent most of those 21 years in
> > Microsoft environments which don't interoperate well with the rest, but
> > the rest of us were happily moving code and data between (in my case)
> > various flavours of unix, DOS, RISC OS, and Windows.
> Where I lived it was with great pain and agony, and the APIs and
> Toolkits that Tim spoke of.

Then move :-)

> Frank


A city is like a large, complex, rabbit
 - ARP


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