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No Bob, it isn't bad, but the XMLers don't need
to be lectured either as if they had their wooden
shoes in hand ready to throw them into the looms.
A binary can have all of the problems that Elliotte
mentions, and because of the experiences with that
over the years, and there is a lot of experience
that led to XML, hard questions are going to be
asked and requirements levied. Whether the winner
of this is ASN.1, myXMLBinary, or whether the result
is that a generalized binary isn't worth the effort
and costs, or that best practices for XML binaries
per application type should be created, all of the
hard questions must be asked and answered.
There were reasons to go to markup over all of the
binary solutions that dominated the markets when
that decision was made. The success of that decision
is evident by the near ubiquitous use of markup systems
now and the ease with which unprecedented integration
and standardization is occurring. Be sure that all
serious and experienced programmers, authors, users
analysts and customers will be reviewing their
current problems and successes prior to implementing
and using formats which so far only meet the need
for speed where speed is not the critical determinant.
QWERTY keyboards were designed in a time when it was
necessary to slow down a typist. Markup was designed
in a time when the scale of implementation and the
heterogeneity of the environment forced all local
system requirements out of the design. It is a
compromise but it works.
Syntax is NOT trivial. Syntax is the absolute
zero point origin of the interface between the
machine and the humans who use it. It is the
best point of compromise between what the machine
needs for speed and what the human needs for
clarity. It liberates the information from
the company that makes the machine and the programmer
who creates the software that runs on that machine.
It was a long and hard fought battle to achieve
that at the scale it has been achieved and it
will not be rolled back so companies that make
their bones on high performance can break a few more.
From: Bob Wyman [mailto:email@example.com]
Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:
>At 9:00 AM -0400 4/16/04, Stephen D. Williams wrote:
>>Binary doesn't imply there isn't any well-formedness
>> checking, obviously.
> For once I agree. Obviously, binary doesn't imply that.
> However, in practice, the binary formats I do see rarely
> do as much well-formedness checking as a parser does,
> either in the XML domain or elsewhere.
It sounds like you've had some bad experiences with poorly
written code that worked with binary data. All of us have. However,
that doesn't make it right to attack the whole class of binary formats
or programmers who use binary formats. It just means that when you're
working with binary stuff you *must* be more careful -- much more
careful. While folk are often "casual" about their handling of
text-based stuff, when you're working with binary, you really must pay
attention. For some applications, the "cost" of greater diligence is
justified. For others, it isn't.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid or reduce these problems
is to use code libraries that have long and proven histories. For
instance, when I use ASN.1 binary formats, I typically use the OSS
Nokalva stuff which is the result of well over 15 years of
development, testing, and proof in the field. Since I'm using a proven
library, I can be a great deal more relaxed about these issues then
someone using some random package that they discovered by doing a
We don't need to be lectured on the fact that working with
binary requires a higher standard of diligence and discipline than
working with text-based encodings. This is obvious. But, just because
it's a bit "harder" doesn't mean it is bad.
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