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Re: [xml-dev] Article on nytimes.com about Microsoft

It sounds to me like somebody is trying to use Microsoft's public skepticism about EXI (Efficient XML Interchange) for some purpose or another that is hard to guess at without knowing who is doing the off-the-record whispering.  I assume the event 4 years ago was the W3C workshop on binary XML, and the rival compression "standard" is the internal format that  WCF can use to communicate with other WCF implementations. 
I've been close to this discussion within Microsoft for some time. We have been quite transparent all along. Here's what I understand our collective impression of EXI and other binary XML efforts to be:
- XML text is admittedly inefficient for certain scenarios, such as high volume web services messages.  We, and many others, have looked at a variety of ways to alleviate that situation. Bottom line, however, is that XML 1.0 text is the format of choice when interoperability concerns are paramount, and we're leery of diluting that message by supposed improvements such as XML 1.1, EXI, etc. 
- We and others use a variety of binary XML formats for optimizing internal communication channels, e.g. between WCF nodes and between SQL Server clients and servers.  These are optimized for very different purposes - the WCF one only has to deal with SOAP messages, and the SQL one is essentially a fast dump of an internal data structure.  There have been internal efforts to see if a single internal binary XML format would suffice, and they always conclude that it won't.  Thus, we have been extremely skeptical of the W3C effort to find a one-size-fits-all binary XML standard, and have not joined the XBC or EXI working groups.
- None of the binary XML formats we've seen greatly reduce the bandwidth or processor burden of XML in general.  If you have a very specific scenario, you can get some good results, but those same techniques seldom carry over to other scenarios.  Likewise our internal formats are not particularly better than those of other platform vendors with proprietary binary XML formats, they are just optimized for our platform and our customer scenarios.  Standardizing them would serve little purpose, so  
- We're keeping an open mind, however, and looking at the EXI working draft and the measurements note.  My personal impression from spending a day or so on this is that the spec is technically quite impressive, but that comes at a very high cost in complexity and the need for some out-of-band schema interchange to get the most impressive results. 
- We have no a priori position on whether EXI should advance to a W3C Recommendation or not.  What we want to see is the questions raised by the TAG  http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-xml-binary/2005May/0000.html answered.  I personally am not able to extract these answers from the EXI measurements note, and the TAG hasn't show much inclination yet to revisit this question, so I have no idea what will happen next.
- If a W3C Recommendation emerges and/or  there is customer demand (or, ahem, de jure government demand) to support interoperability on the basis of EXI (or ITU FastInfoset, an existing binary XML standard), we'd be able to support it in the .NET architecture.  We haven't yet seen that demand, and the other major platform vendors don't seem to be any more excited about meeting that hypothetical demand than we are.
Again, this is my personal understanding, not some official MS position.

Alessandro Triglia <sandro@mclink.it> wrote:

The article below is related to the issue being discussed.


I am baffled by the last few paragraphs of the article, those beginning with
the words "While the industry...", "A set of Web services standards...", and
"Microsoft's standards efforts...".

Does anybody know what the three paragraphs above are talking about?

What are those new Web services standards that **have emerged** from the W3C
and that might give Microsoft a performance advantage over their

What are those new compression standards developed by Microsoft that will
make their Web services perform better than those of their competitors?

Alessandro Triglia


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