The pursuit of binary XML
Several people have asked me recently about where the work to look into Binary XML stands. Here's a quick update along with a brief history for people not familiar with this discussion. Last year I participated in the W3C working group that investigated the feasibility of a binary XML format. The web page for the group is here. This was an unusual group for W3C in that it's purpose was not to produce new Recommendations (specifications) but rather a series of documents (reports) of findings. You can find those documents at the URL I gave above. I must confess I still have very mixed emotions on this topic and even having participated in the workgroup I think it's fair to say that I am still very much "on the fence" on this one. On the one hand I can see the advantage in some scenarios to having a parsable, compact, binary form of an XML document. On the other hand, all of the values we see today from XML derive from the fact that it is ostensibly human readable text. The folks at W3C along with the membership are still discussing how next to proceed on this one. If you follow hte W3C TAG mailing list you will have seen quite a bit of discussion there, for example. I'll be following this one with an active interest for sure. It's a good discussion to be having but one that must be had with a large degree of caution and care as we must not harm all that XML has achieved in whatever future formats we may create.