formatted xml output from ElementTree inconsistency

Patrick Maupin pmaupin at gmail.com
Sat Jun 25 07:20:55 CEST 2005


Dennis Bieber wrote:

> Off hand, I'd consider the non-binary nature to be because the
> internet protocols are mostly designed for text, not binary.

A document at http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-xml/ lists "the design goals for
XML".

One of the listed goals is "XML documents should be human-legible and
reasonably clear".

To your point, the very _first_ listed goal (if order means anything in
this list) is "XML shall be straightforwardly usable over the
Internet", so it's reasonable to assume "the non-binary nature to be
because the internet protocols are mostly designed for text, not
binary."

But this assumption turns cause and effect on its head.  It is
perfectly feasible to pass binary data through every known internet
protocol (with a little simplistic encoding), and is done all the time.
 The real next question is: why ARE the internet protocols "mostly
designed for text, not binary"?

SMTP, for example, was designed at a time when memory, bandwidth, and
CPU cycles were all at a premium, and MTAs were coded using fairly
low-level constructs in C where parsing was a pain in the rear.  Even
so, the developers decided to use relatively free-formatted ASCII in
the protocol.  To follow your theory to its logical conclusion, they
must have wasted all that bandwith, all those CPU cycles, all that
memory, all that disk space, and all that effort writing parsing code
because of yet another underlying mechanism which was "designed for
text."

On that account, your theory is correct, but only when you realize the
underlying mechanism which is "designed for text" is the human brain,
which has to try to make sense of all this mess when things aren't
quite interoperating properly.

Regards,
Pat




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