W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-xml-binary@w3.org > December 2004

Re: Non-XML binary formats.

From: Paul Thorpe <thorpe@oss.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 20:46:30 -0800 (PST)
To: Robin Berjon <robin.berjon@expway.fr>
cc: bobwyman@pubsub.com, public-xml-binary@w3.org
Message-ID: <Pine.GSO.4.58.0412012042100.6941@fortress.oss.com>

On Wed, 1 Dec 2004, Robin Berjon wrote:

>
> Bob Wyman wrote:
> > David Ryan wrote:
> >>I'm guessing this debate has been going on for a while already. :)
> >
> > 	Yes, about 20 years at this point. It started as SGML vs. ASN.1 back
> > when most of today's coders were still in kindergarten.
>
> The real problem here is in the "vs". Sometimes there are very good
> reasons to use text, and sometimes there are very good reasons to use
> binary. I'm still curious to find out why SGML-B never took off, but
> unfortunately have not been able to get an answer out of anyone that was
> there.
>
> >>I have briefly looked at ASN.1 in the past and found it wasn't
> >>what I was looking for.
> >
> > 	Yes. Most such statements start with something like "briefly
> > looked." The reality is that ASN.1 has always been able to do all that XML
> > could do and it has been doing it for 20 years.
>
> That's simply not an argument that flies. We put people on the moon with
> Cobol and Fortran, yet we tend to use different languages today and
> there probably are reasons for that. I'm not saying that ASN.1 is the
> Cobol of data frameworks, but simply that "already could do for n years"
> is a non-argument.
>
> > The problem is that people
> > typically look at it "briefly," get overwhelmed by what they consider to be
> > complexity or a hard to read specification and then decide to do something
> > simpler or easier to implement or proprietary.
>
> If you care about a technology, you care about it being used. When
> people don't use it, you can either rant about it or do something about
> it. Yes it can be quite frustrating but that's just the way it is.
> People look briefly at XML and think that it's simple and very usable
> (probably thanks to the fact that they only looked briefly :). People
> open an ASN.1 book at a random page and go "VideotexString? Ha!" before
> giving up on it. (I'm caricaturing here of course, though I've actually
> been a witness to the latter)
>
> > What they don't realize is
> > that there is a reason that ASN.1 is as "complete" as it is. That
> > "completeness" has been found to be required.
>
> Are you absolutely positive? I regularly hear talks about ASN.2 doing to
> ASN.1 what XML did to SGML. I'd be curious to hear what the current
> thinking on that is. After all, you'd think that if you go to the
> trouble of making your version number integral to your name, you'd
> expect to actually change it sometimes ;)

I don't know where these ASN.2 rumors are coming from.  There is no ASN.2,
and no plans for one.  The only reason there is a dot "." in the name is
that ASN1 got confused with ANSI too often.  By calling it ASN.1 (yes the
"." is pronounced "dot"), there was no more mixing it up with ANSI.

Paul
Received on Thursday, 2 December 2004 04:46:39 GMT

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