Minggu, Januari 24, 2010

Strengths and Weaknesses of XML

XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a set of rules for encoding documents electronically. It is defined in the XML 1.0 Specification produced by the W3C and several other related specifications; all are fee-free open standards.

XML’s design goals emphasize simplicity, generality, and usability over the Internet. It is a textual data format, with strong support via Unicode for the languages of the world. Although XML’s design focuses on documents, it is widely used for the representation of arbitrary data structures, for example in web services.

There are a variety of programming interfaces which software developers may use to access XML data, and several schema systems designed to aid in the definition of XML-based languages.

This time, hundreds of XML-based languages have been developed, including RSS, Atom, SOAP, and XHTML. XML-based formats have become the default for most office-productivity tools, including Microsoft Office (Office Open XML), OpenOffice.org (OpenDocument) Linux and Windows base, and Apple's iWork

XML have Strengths and Weaknesses

1. Strengths
a.its simultaneously human- and machine-readable format;
b.it has support for Unicode, allowing almost any information in any human language to be communicated;
c.the ability to represent the most general computer science data structures: records, lists and trees;
d.the self-documenting format that describes structure and field names as well as specific values;
e.the strict syntax and parsing requirements that allow the necessary parsing algorithms to remain simple, efficient, and consistent.

2. Weakness

a.Its syntax is fairly verbose and partially redundant. This can hurt human readability and application efficiency, and yields higher storage costs. It can also make XML difficult to apply in cases where bandwidth is limited, though compression can reduce the problem in some cases. This is particularly true for multimedia applications running on cell phones and PDAs which want to use XML to describe images and video.

b.Parsers should be designed to recurse arbitrarily nested data structures and must perform additional checks to detect improperly formatted or differently ordered syntax or data (this is because the markup is descriptive and partially redundant, as noted above). This causes a significant overhead for most basic uses of XML, particularly where resources may be scarce - for example in embedded systems. Furthermore, additional security considerations arise when XML input is fed from untrustworthy sources, and resource exhaustion or stack overflows are possible.

c.Some consider the syntax to contain a number of obscure, unnecessary features born of its legacy of SGML compatibility. However, an effort to settle on a subset called "Minimal XML" led to the discovery that there was no consensus on which features were in fact obscure or unnecessary.

d.The basic parsing requirements do not support a very wide array of data types, so interpretation sometimes involves additional work in order to process the desired data from a document. For example, there is no provision in XML for mandating that "3.14159" is a floating-point number rather than a seven-character string. XML schema languages add this functionality.

e.Modelling overlapping (non-hierarchical) data structures requires extra effort.

f.Mapping XML to the relational or object oriented paradigms is often cumbersome.

g.Some have argued that XML can be used for data storage only if the file is of low volume, but this is only true given particular assumptions about architecture, data, implementation, and other issues.

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