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RE: [xml-dev] The Social Phenomena that Leads to a Diversity of Data Formats and the Ensuing Data Interchange Challenges

Not sure what this has to do with "Social Phenomena" but your description
sounds accurate to my memory of 40 years of software development.   And it
mirrors not just data formats but also code portability.
I was lucky at a young age to have exposure to a wide variety of OS
platforms and the concept of writing software (then it was "C") so that it
was "portable" was ingrained.   Yet almost everyone I met had no such
concept ingrained.  The near-sighted wisdome was 'This will only every run
on this one OS/Machine I'm writing it for so why should I put the extra
effort into making it "portable" ? Its a waste of time '

Now that Data is the New Software I think the same rationale applies.

Still not sure how this ties in with "Social" ... to me its more a matter of
expectations, experience, and thinking ahead beyond the 1 inch in front of
your face.  And be willing to take the extra effort and *suffer* the
performance costs of portability.
I remember when it was considered "Efficient and Really Cool" to simply take
a literal memory dump of a program and save it as an "a.out" format to save
state.    It was quick, efficient, and actually worked.  It only took a few
lines of code to save the entire program AND its entire set of data.  You
could launch the saved program and it picked up where it left off.  Fast !
No reading in data files, no serialization.  No abstractions.  It just
re-launched your program back in the same state as when it was left off.
The Height of Genius.

Except of course it was an awful hack that only worked on exactly the same
machine as it was run on and only worked on a very few OS's and then was
extremely prone to bugs and hacking.  But hey.  It was Very Cool Solution to
a Real Problem.

David A. Lee

-----Original Message-----
From: Costello, Roger L. [mailto:costello@mitre.org] 
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 1:53 PM
To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: [xml-dev] The Social Phenomena that Leads to a Diversity of Data
Formats and the Ensuing Data Interchange Challenges

Hi Folks,

This is fascinating [1]:

The way software is developed has led to the situation today where there are
various data formats. Programs are very often written speculatively, that
is, without any advance understanding of how important they will become.
Given this situation, little effort is expended on data formats since it
remains easier to program the I/O in the most straightforward way possible
with the programming tools in use. Even something as simple as using an
XML-based data format is harder than just using the native I/O libraries of
a programming language.

In time, however, it is realized that a software program is important
because either many people are using it, or it has become important for
business or organizational needs to start using it in larger scale
deployments. At that point it is often too late to go back and change the
data formats. For example, there may be real or perceived business costs to
delaying the deployment of a program for a rewrite just to change the data
formats, particularly if such rewriting will reduce the performance of the
program and increase the costs of deployment.

The result? Many applications, each with their own data format, e.g. binary,
text-not-XML, and text-XML.



[1] Section 1.1 of http://www.ogf.org/documents/GFD.174.pdf 


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