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   Sorting out what we agree and disagree on (was Re: [xml-dev] Parsingeffi

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On Thu, 27 Feb 2003 15:40:54 +0100, Robin Berjon <robin.berjon@expway.fr> 

> Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:
>> It strikes me that a lot of people are using BinXML to mean whatever 
>> they want it to mean.
> It's a constellation of technologies that can have very different 
> features,

Exactly.  That may be synonymous with "whatever they want it to mean", if 
that reduces the confusion so that we can agree on what we disagree over.

The common strands in the "alternative syntaxes for XML infosets" threads 
("binary" is just one particular aspect) seem to be:

- "XML" is more than just UnicodeWithAngleBrackets, it's a constellation of 
technologies that are inter-related in a mutually-supporting but formally 
ambiguous way. XML's success in the real world comes from their synergy, 
not any one (e.g. the syntax) in isolation.

- XML 1.0 explicitly states that it should be usable for a wide variety of 
applications.  That is happening, probably more than anyone anticipated 5 
years ago.  These diverse applications developers are facing a diverse set 
of challenges in dealing with the XML syntax, and are looking for ways to 
get the benefits of "XML" while relaxing the constraints of XML syntax. 
Among these challenges -- which are different, and almost certainly have no 
common solution -- are large data volumes that are a problem when bandwidth 
is constrained, slow parsing speed which is a problem in small devices or 
performance-critical environments, various inefficiencies when "attaching" 
binary images, executables, etc. to XML documents/messages, difficulties 
with user acceptance or tools/training when creating the syntax, challenges 
preserving data type information when using XML to exchange information 
from one strongly typed application to another, and probably many more.

- As XML's popularity increases, the need for native but efficient XML 
processing is being driven deeper and deeper into a wide variety of 
applications.  Proprietary solutions (e.g. binary infoset serializations) 
are being designed and employed, but are being seen as less and less viable 
because the logic of open standards creates demands by customers and 
partners that proprietary solutions can't address.

- Therefore, there is increasing interest in making sure that the core W3C 
architectures do NOT enshrine the theory that "XML" is just a syntax, but 
is in fact an intertwined network of technologies built on the XML syntax, 
the abstract data model that well-formed documents imply, the more concrete 
data model implied by the XSDL datatypes, the declarative processing models 
such as XPath, XSLT, and XQuery that build on a conception of the data 
model rather than the syntax, and so on. This will probably require some 
formalization of fuzzy concepts and some refactoring of existing specs in 
improve their layering and modularity, i.e., so that universally applicable 
concepts are in the "core", and specialized concepts are in the 
"periphery." If we've learned anything from the first 5 years of XML, it's 
that it can't succeed as a "big ball of mud" that pollutes document 
applications with data-specific concepts or data applications with 
document-specific concepts.

- Actual standardization of various alternative serializations is something 
to discuss and explore at this point, not to move rapidly ahead with.  Much 
more real performance data, clearer delineation of communities with similar 
requirements, etc., and experimentation with real alternatives is needed 

OK, would anyone who has spoken up in favor of "binary XML" disagree with 
any of that?  And what specific parts of this summary would those who have 
spoken out against its ideas care to challenge?


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