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   Re: [xml-dev] Blaming the programmers (was Re: malfunctioning, evil adul

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seairth@seairth.com (Seairth Jacobs) writes:
>For the rest of the programmers out there (of which I include myself),
>the problems with XML existed the moment they started using it.  I'll
>admit right now that this is a "one man's tea, another man's poison"
>perspective issue.  But like it or not, non-hypertext programmers are
>having XML shoved down their throat as the new way to do just about
>everything.  You want to connect two accounting systems together over
>the net? Use XML!  You want to store arbitrary data in a way that can
>be easily accessed by generic tools? Use XML!  You want to create
>layered APIs that seamlessly work together? Use XML!  And all this
>time, these programmers are asking themselves "why?". Well, because
>their boss saw it in Information Week, their tools vendor has
>rewritten everything to use it, and the W3C comes out with XML
>Datatypes, etc. to bolster the notion that XML is just as good for
>non-hypertext uses.

Perhaps Erik Naggum is right, then:
But the one thing I would change the most from a markup language
suitable for marking up the incidental instruction to a type-setter to
the data representation language suitable for the "market" that XML
wants, is to go for a binary representation.  The reasons for
/not/ going binary when SGML competed with ODA have been reversed:
When information should survive changes in the software, it was an
important decision to make the data format verbose enough that it was
easy to implement a processor for it and that processors could
liberally accept what other processors conservatively produced, but now
that the data formats that employ XML are so easily changed that the
software can no longer keep up with it, we need to slam on the breaks
and tell the redefiners to curb their enthusiasm, get it right before
they share their experiments with the world, and show some respect for
their users.  One way to do that is to increase the cost of changes to
implementations without sacrificing readability and without making the
data format more "brittle", by going binary. Our information
infrastructure has become so much better that the nature of
optimization for survivability has changed qualitatively. The question
of what we humans need to read and write no longer has any bearing on
what the computers need to work with.  One of the most heinous crimes
against computing machinery is therefore to force them to parse XML
when all they want is the binary data.

I've said repeatedly that I'd be very happy if programmers found a
format that worked for them rather than imposing their perspective on
markup.  Convertibility between the two might be nice, but it's really
hard for me to believe at this point the number of cases where XML is an
eccentric round peg forced into a dutifully square hole.

Simon St.Laurent
Ring around the content, a pocket full of brackets
Errors, errors, all fall down!
http://simonstl.com -- http://monasticxml.org


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