Responding to Sean McGrath on his recent post about XML-vs-binary document formats:
Look, its just like I was trying to say in #email@example.com the other day: There is nothing wrong with a format being binary. There is no virtue to be found in every byte of a file being interpreted as a textual character (or part of one) that represents your real data. "There ain't such thing as plain text," says Joel Spolsky! There isn't any difference in interpresting the binary as text than just interpretting it directly as your data.
You can easily have XML formats as undocumented and inconsistant between versions as any binary format, but you get the added benefit of extra processing overhead, bloated filesizes, and limitations on structure and performance (try keeping efficient on-disk indexes into an XML file up-to-date).
I do believe text-based formats and XML has its place, but these places are limited. I would have much perfered an opening and standardization of a relational-based format the way Word documents worked internally before Microsoft was bullied into an XML-based format.
I'm wondering if I actually know Sean and didn't realize it, because his points are exactly those I was arguing against in #python the other day, and so I wonder if someone I was arguing was McGrath by a different name. Knowing your strangers is a great gem of the internet-age, isn't it?
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