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According to some things I have read or been told, ASN.1 was originally developed for people - people communication, to let them explain schemas to each other. Probably because of that, it turned out to be a bear to parse. I do not know if the residue of this still plays a role, but full ASN.1 has an awful lot of syntax features.
Maybe it is like XML Schema - no one has yet implemented every feature correctly (or have they by now?). I myself wrote an ASN.1 to XML Schema translator - __very__ incomplete and simple-minded, though it handled most of the schemas we were dealing with (and the xml format described by the resulting xsd schema was not XER). There are many wrinkles and optional features and special cases and defaults to handle.
I think that some of the sophisticated encodings like PER are very hard to get right and complete, too (I have never looked into these encodings, so have no first-hand experience here).
> There seems to be quite a few half-baked Open Source tools for ASN.1
> that seem to have stopped at supporting BER and a subset of the abstract
> syntax that they deemed useful, but never its entirety. Do the ASN.1
> folks consider this a problem? It certainly has caused me to try and use
> it, and give up in the past for I didn't have time to fix the tools.
> What is the generally admitted reason for this? Spec complexity? Lack of
> interest? Something else?