A raging debate has sparked over the recent announcement by the state government of the Massachusetts to migrate to the Oasis Open Document format. Since Oasis Open Document and the next version of Microsoft Office are based on XML, I have a better question for both camps -- why XML?
I suppose it's because XML has the following benefits:
- Increase storage industry sales by 1000%
- Increase Telco and ISP sales of bandwidth by 1000%
- Create a whole new category of hardware sales in XML acceleration
- Sell a ton of new XML compression gear
- Increase server sales due to additional computational requirements
Well that's all fine and dandy but how is this a good thing if I've got a business to run? It sure sounds like a bonanza of new sales for my vendors but it's probably going to send me to the poor house. What does XML do for me that I can't do with existing binary formats and existing RDBMS formats? What kind of ROI (return on investment) can possibly justify the massive retrofit of my entire IT infrastructure to be "XML-friendly"? Oh, but it's human-readable! Umm, has anyone ever tried to read a raw XML document before they espouse the human-readability of XML? Maybe some Vi guru can call it human readable but I sure can't and I don't know of normal person who would. A simple CSV file that is at least 10 times smaller is infinitely more human-readable than XML. Granted a human has no chance of reading a binary format file like a Microsoft Access MDB Database file but that's what software is suppose to do, present information in a easy to view format. No normal person is interested in reading raw XML even if they're guilty of spreading the myth of XML human-readability.
Data is ultimately stored in system memory as a tight, non-verbose and efficient binary format before it can be processed by the CPU. Data is ultimately presented to the video hardware as binary data. Data is ultimately sent over a wide-area-network in binary packets and cells. Data ultimately has to be presented to the user in a graphical manner, which has nothing to do with XML. What then is achieved by taking a massive detour with bloated XML documents when they ultimately have to be processed into something else before they can be parsed by the CPU or human? I could care less about the hardware vendors making billions off the additional hardware sales that XML will generate if it is ever adopted. I've seen XML documents and they are anywhere from 3 to 15 times bigger. I could care less about either new XML format from Microsoft or Oasis and I say a pox on both their houses.