[LINK] XML is evil

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Fri Nov 7 20:50:40 AEDT 2008


I've tried to see things in the light of standardisation, extensibility
and power, and I can't. XML is evil.

Just two examples.

If I buy the ABS CDs, I get hundreds of CSV files, which with a little
script that took an hour to work out, once, I can import into a database
in very little time at all. The data set is huge, but everything works

Openstreetmap.org allows you to export maps. In X-M-damn-L. You need a
parser to do anything with the data, of which there are several, none of
which work properly. You cannot, without first studying XML and poring
over the schema, do anything off your own bat with the data. You can't
load the data into a database without a parser, which won't work
properly. You can't put the data into a GIS without a parser, which
won't work properly.

And this is my universal, unfailing, every-damn-time I try to do
anything involving XML, experience with this horrid language. It's used
for the definitions of Web mapping servers, which means that almost all
of them are subtly incompatible with each other, so you have to do
everything brand-new every time.

XML's only practical role is to obfuscate: to make data inaccessible
except to the tiny bloody elite of people who (a) give a stuff about XML
enough to study it, (b) actually understand it, and (c) like spending
their lives revising everything to keep pace with stupid incremental
changes in someone's XML schema because someone says "we forgot a tag
for user's alias which nobody's going to use but we ought to have anyhow".

In short, XML has become the plaything of idiots, and is seriously
hampering access to data by a wider audience. What a dog it turned out
to be.

As boring-old-CSV, data is accessible and portable. XML is not. How did
it get this way?

Richard C

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