Best XML Quote

Posted on December 29, 2008

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XML is like violence. If it doesn’t solve the problem, use more.

 

I’m not sure who came up with this quote. I stumbled upon it in Slashdot. And a quick google on it shows that it is being repeated over and over as an anonymous quote. Regardless of who first came up with it, it encapsulates a always-present malady of the IT world: the abuse and misapplication of technologies and principles.

You know there is something wrong when two applications are communicating via XML when both belong to the same owner, are written in the same language, run on the same network, are not exposed to third parties and yet communicate via XML. By third parties, we mean systems that at best are owned by different organizations within the same company, and at worst, are owned by different entities and are external to each entities’ physical networks.

A typical example of this type of abuse is having a web application A having to go through another web application B to retrieve information from a database C, when A and B are written in the same language and A, B, and C being within the same network vicinity. Worse still when the intermediary application breaks down the database results into malformed XML documents.

Not only does this ignore the perennial impedance mismatch that is characteristic of all modern applications that communicate with databases. It also compounds the problem by using the wrong technology to communicate results in this manner: XML. It is not only cumbersome, but it is also inflexible in representing ever-changing data relationships in the database as well as CPU/memory inefficient.

You only use XML when two distinct applications that are external and separate to each other and need to communicate through discrete and well-defined interfaces. Nothing else really justifies plastering XML all over communication protocols.

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Posted in: IT, software