The Problem With XML

XML, despite still having immense momentum, is not without problems. These days it probably is the pragmatic solution for many jobs, thanks to the multitude of tools for various platforms for processing it. That doesn't mean it couldn't, and shouldn't, be better. Not surprisingly, people persist in discussing its faults and how it should be.

Erik Naggum, in his characteristic style, details his beef with XML with a very long article [via Python Owns Us] where he makes many good points about the evolution of data formats and gives his suggestions on what should be changed in the XML format to make it better. While I'm not totally convinced about the binary format bit, otherwise I do agree with his points.

However, I think Aaron Swartz put it best in one little sentence, even if he didn't suggest any improvements: "XML [...] encourages you to be conservative in what you accept and liberal in what you put out.", in direct contrast to the traditional — and sensible — ethos of protocol designers. That is the single thing that is most damning to XML. Thanks to Aaron for articulating it.

Back to Work

Christmas is over; read two books — Dead Air by Iain Banks, a decent book if not among his best, and Red Dog by Louis de Berniéres, a fun and fast read — did a couple of jigsaws with my gf, ate way too much, drank some very nice wines — like Masi Mezzanella and Bollinger Special Cuvée — and had a very good time in other respects, too.

Now it's back to work. It would probably have been a good idea to be on vacation for this week, too.

Base64

I have this base64 implementation (both decoding and encoding) in Common Lisp available on my web page. I have had some very nice feedback about it, but I've been a lazy maintainer; KMR sent me some patches for ACL compatibility many moons ago but I never got around to integrating them. Um. I think. Or maybe I did... Well, anyway, it took ages.

Now it turns out that a) Edi Weitz created a page for it in CLiki and b) KMR forked base64, now calling it cl-base64, giving it some undoubtedly much-needed optimizations (I never benchmarked my implementation and speed wasn't much of a concern when coding it) and adding some nice extra functionality.

Thanks, guys, both of you.

© Juri Pakaste 2021