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   Re: [xml-dev] Re: Where does the "nothing left but toolkits" mythcome fr

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Robin Berjon wrote:

> I wonder how that statement is supposed to hold in the face of the fact 
> that dozens of "binary XML" formats out there are systematically smaller 
> than the equivalent XML. There are indeed interesting cases, for 
> instance when you see that a gzipped SVG document is often circa 30% 
> smaller than the SWF with the same functionality, but they hardly make 
> the rule.

My point is not that theoretical, academic exercises don't produce 
smaller files. My point is that if you look at the real-world, non-XML 
file formats people actually use on a day-to-day basis, they tend to be 
quite bloated relative to XML. If size did matter, then people would be 
complaining about the bloatedness of their Word files, their Quicken 
files, their database tables, and so forth. That they're not complaining 
about these things proves that they don't really care about them.

The only reason people are so excited about the verboseness and 
bloatedness of XML is that, because it's a plain text format, they can 
see just how much redundancy there is. The other binary files they deal 
with range from just as bloated to even more bloated, but because they 
can't see it, they don't care. This wasn't always true. by the way. In 
the days of floppy disks and 10 MB hard drives, software vendors did 
care about binary file sizes, and software reviewers and customers paid 
attention to these things, but it just hasn't been worth the effort for 
at least ten years.

Here's a prediction: if a binary XML format does come to pass, within 
five years of its inception, these binary documents will be large, 
bloated, full of empty space and redundant content, and nobody will 
notice or care.

There are, of course, a few file formats that are so inherently large 
that compression does still matter: JPEGS, MP3s, QuickTime, and other 
digitized data; and here developers still do pay attention to document 
size; but these are use cases XML is not intended for, does not serve 
well, and never will serve well. Not everything should be XML.

Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo@metalab.unc.edu
XML in a Nutshell 3rd Edition Just Published!


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