Is XML overrated? This is a question not asked lightly. It is a heavy and bloated question, much like XML itself. XML has been around since 1997. It is document based and it is extremely verbose. It requires a higher payload across the network and cannot be natively used once it arrives. The XML payload must be consumed in some fashion. None of these activities attribute to the speed of an application.
In today's world of AJAX and Flex, is XML past its prime? Does XML need to be regarded as a good idea whose time has come and gone? There are plenty of capable replacements available when using AJAX and Flex. Some examples that come to mind are JSON and AMF (Action Message Format). Both of these formats require smaller payloads and less processing on the receiving and sending endpoints. These data interchange formats are faster and less resource intensive than XML.
"XML still thrives on the strength of one key factor: its market penetration."
XML still thrives on the strength of one key factor: its market penetration. As clunky and obtrusive as it may be, XML is still a highly-used standard for data interchange between disparate systems. Most application servers can accept XML and apply some layer of processing to the XML. EDI is a key driver to not only XML's perpetuation, but its very existence.
Where does this leave the first question? Is XML overrated? There are compelling arguments on both sides of the aisle, but the answer lies in individual preference. If a developer is more comfortable with XML, it will be used. If they are more comfortable with an alternative data interchange format, that format of preference will be used.
Either way, XML will continue to exist; but its days may, indeed, be numbered.
About Andrew Powell Andrew Powell has been architecting and developing Web applications for over 10 years using ColdFusion, Java, ASP.NET and ASP. His background includes experience running IT Departments for firms in the executive search and aviation consulting fields. You can read his blog on everything ColdFusion, Java, Flex & AJAX at www.infoaccelerator.net.
That is a very narrow view of XML. AJAX works by exchanging XML fragments with the server app. JSON may replace XML here.
Flex in addition uses XML to describe the UI itself (like XAML and XUL). XML is not just about user interface. It is also used for data exchange, object communication (webservices), creating several industry specific vocabularies (fixml, acord).
Dennis Muzza commented on 20 Dec 2006
For simple data exchanges between a web client and its server within the same application it's probably more practical to use JSON or Flex, but before writing XML's obituary let's not forget that it provides the syntax for web services (the basis of SOA) as well as a myriad markup languages, some of which have by now solidified as industry standards. I personally think that XML is by far the best that ever happened to enterprise data exchange, which for decades had been hindered by mutually incompatible custom EDI formats. This doesn't mean that XML is immortal, but given its traction it will probably stay around for a while and the problems associated with payload verbosity will be resolved sooner or later by better compression algorithms, possibly at the network hardware level, making it transparent to enterprise users.
Trackback Added: Is XML past its prime?; In Today's World of AJAX and Flex, Is XML Past Its Prime?
? Does XML need to be regarded as a good idea whose time has come and gone? There are plenty of capable replacements availabe when using AJAX and Flex. Some examples that come to mind are J
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