Will more XML traffic on the Net mean traffic jams?

Will more XML traffic on the Net mean traffic jams?

Summary: News.com's Martin LaMonica has a story on how an increasing percentage of the traffic crossing the Net is carrying data that's encoded in the highly text-oriented Extensible Markup Language (XML).

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TOPICS: Browser
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News.com's Martin LaMonica has a story on how an increasing percentage of the traffic crossing the Net is carrying data that's encoded in the highly text-oriented Extensible Markup Language (XML). As Web services, to which XML is a fundamental component, become more prevalent in the exchange between Internet-connected systems for everything from e-commerce to photo-sharing to content syndication, that percentage can only go up.

Unlike with other applications where, by the time whatever data is being exchanged reaches the wire, it's no longer expressed as bulky and bandwidth-inefficient text, the text-based nature of XML traffic raises questions about the potential for network congestion and response time of transactional systems that must parse any XML-based data before figuring out what to do with it. Picture a highway full of tractor trailer trucks (as opposed to motorcycles) with on- and off-ramps that aren't perfectly equipped to handle heavy truck volume. The opportunity is ripe for congestion that affects more than just the XML-based traffic.

LaMonica's story touches on various approaches being considered by vendors as well as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which has formed the Binary Characterization Working Group to consider putting XML in binary format. As a side note, W3C working groups are no guarantee that there will be a standard. Like any

Topic: Browser

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6 comments
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  • XML is Gods' gift to the hardware makers

    XML increases storage, CPU, network requirements by a factor of 10.

    Intel is smiling
    EMC is smiling
    Cisco is smiling

    Thank god for XML! Unless you're the user of course.
    george_ou
  • How about BER?

    ASN.1 solved this problem a long time ago with Encoding Rules to define exactly how data should be encoded from high level languages, travel over the wire in an efficient binary format, and be decoded at the other end.

    It seems that XML has come full circle and met ASN.1.

    The problem with ASN.1 was that the tools were expensive and not readily available. Somehow, because XML was HTML-like, everyone joined in without much forethought. Well, ASN.1 has been well thought out and solved these technical problems, just not the adoption problem.

    Let's learn from ASN.1 and don't play not-invented-here and toss it out. There's a big baby in that bath, and not as much bath water as people assumed.
    kryszak
    • Simplified BER might be better

      Just as XML is a simplified SGML, it might be better to use a simplified ASN.1/BER. We use this now in several products. The primary simplification comes in the type specifier which is flat. The standard BER encoding sets aside 3 bits for describing the type of data. That leaves only enough room for 30 descriptors of the same class. XML forgoes data class description in the document, instead storing that information in the schema.

      We use the first byte as the tag, allowing 256 possible tag types at each level of the document. We then use the next byte for the length. If the length is between 1 and 128, we add 0x7f to the value so 0x80==1, 0x81==2, etc. If the length is between 129 and 16384, we just store the length high-byte first. For anything larger, we store 0x7f as our "long length" marker and then store a 4-byte length. If a tag has a zero-length value, we skip the tag completely and the null value is implied. Otherwise, our format is very similar to ASN.1/BER.
      scottmax
  • As I predicted

    As I predicted when XML first appeared on the scene. It's dumb to wrap text data in more text that's fatter than the original data itself. People told me it didn't matter because of high speed networks. "But what happens when you get a zillion people all using XML? When it takes 3 or 4 MB to push 1 MB of data? That's just dumb!" And now it's come to pass...
    erc@...
  • Why not use ASN.1 and BER

    ASN.1 has all the attributes that XML has except the
    bulk. The original problem with it was the tools - they weren't free. If they were free everyone could
    pickup the technology. Does anyone really care what it look likes just as long as they can easily encode and decode it?
    JeffHildebrand
    • Links to Tutorials and Tools Please

      If the problems with XML are acute and the purpose is better served by ANS.1 and BER, let's learn and demonstrate them. If they are any good they will become de-facto standards.

      First Links to Tutorials and Tools please.
      pvn