XML vs Python?

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.net
Fri Jan 17 11:57:38 CET 2003


"N. Thomas" <nthomas at cise.ufl.edu> wrote in message news:<slrnb293jk.1hr.nthomas at rain.cise.ufl.edu>...
> ...or rather "XML's data structures vs Python's data structures"

[...]

> Are there any issues that I should be aware of regarding this? I mean,
> are there situations where is it better to save one's data in XML
> internally as opposed to using the language's native structures, and
> exporting to/from XML?

Before the XML heavyweights get in on this, I would make the following points:

  * A lists and dictionaries approach certainly has its merits:
    speed (at least according to the PyRXP people), familiarity,
    interoperability with other Python stuff.

  * Once you start to look into more advanced features, it would
    seem to me that the lists and dictionaries model approaches
    such a level of complexity that a "proper" object model would
    be better. That is because you would need to find more
    efficient ways (in terms of expression) of requesting an
    attribute with a given namespace, for example, than examining
    raw dictionaries. Certainly, it appears to me that...

      attr = element.getAttributeNS(some_namespace, some_name)

    ...is more obvious than...

      attr = element[some_namespace][some_name]

    ...especially if it's hidden in lots of heavy XML processing
    code.

  * You could write your own object model. Frederik Lundh's
    ElementTree is like this. I'm not 100% convinced that it's
    beneficial to drop a standard object model that is widely
    understood for another which is more Pythonic, although this
    is a tradeoff that might be appropriate for some situations.

  * If someone were to write an XPath wrapper for PyRXP and
    similar packages, many standards issues would be less of a
    concern. However, those wishing a "Pythonic" experience
    arguably wouldn't benefit from XPath, and that experience
    would obviously no longer be a motivation for XPath users
    of such packages (since the nice Pythonic interface would
    be ignored).

  * If performance is a concern, libxml2 and cDomlette are
    supposedly rather fast. I've never used the libxml2 bindings
    for Python due to the lack of a PyXML-style DOM interface
    until recently (I believe), but it's interesting that no
    benchmark appears for it in the PyRXP benchmarks comparison
    table:

      http://www.reportlab.com/xml/pyrxp.html

Anyway, I hope this helps.

Paul




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