Re: XML smaller?

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From: Kragen Sitaker (
Date: Fri May 19 2000 - 10:40:21 PDT

Gavin Thomas Nicol writes:
> > Implementing a single message type for a single platform (as above) is
> > obviously much simpler than writing an XML parser. Implementing a
> > single message type portably --- which requires byteswapping,
> > correcting for data type sizes, etc. --- is an order of magnitude or
> > two harder, but still much easier than writing an XML parser.
> The question is though, is it easier/simpler to implement
> void call(int method, int argument)
> {
> int f = connect(....);
> putint(method);
> putint(method);
> }
> using a put/get that uses a plaintext format or one that uses
> a 32 bit long on the wire (4 bytes).
> I would argue that parsing 4 bytes is probably less code, especially
> given the large number of libraries for dealing with this
> (like how hard is htonl and ntohl?).

Granted. But if CORBA solves more problems than XML-RPC does, this
surely solves many fewer.

I like your previous suggestion of XDR as the efficient binary
representation most closely analogous to XML (in its role in XML-RPC).
How big is the code implementing XDR? (It includes something analogous
to an IDL compiler, doesn't it?)

XML is not the Ultima Thule spoken of in ancient parsing legends,
though; you could go with s-expressions (in the text realm) or nested
netstrings (in the semi-text realm) if ease of parsing is your first
criterion. netstrings (and binary representations in general) have the
distinct advantage that you don't have to parse *everything* to look at

(All this is completely unconcerned with things like debuggability,
discoverability, and conciseness of spec.)

> Of course, dealing with text on the wire in a portable manner
> might also be fun. How about dealing with machines with
> 6 bit bytes for example.

Fortunately, that's done for you if the wire in question is an Internet
wire. All the Internet protocols are defined in terms of octets ---
eight-bit units.

<>       Kragen Sitaker     <>
The Internet stock bubble didn't burst on 1999-11-08.  Hurrah!
The power didn't go out on 2000-01-01 either.  :)

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