Friday, January 07, 2005

Does networking have to be based on messaging?

No matter what higher-level protocol you are using, today's networking (main stream IP anyway) revolves around either UDP or TCP messages sent across the network. Does it have to be this way? What are some possible future alternatives? Could the network be extended to be a remote memory bus instead of a message

Sunday, January 02, 2005

XML: The Biggest Golden Hammer Yet?

XML seems to be the most over-hyped technology I have ever come across as a software developer. I suppose this is a natural evolution of the hype-fest that surrounded HTML when it first arrived on the scene. However, at least HTML standardized something that previously had no commercial (as opposed to government) standard. XML cannot claim this. What is the commercial standardthat achieves mostly the same thing as XML? In 1984 the ASN.1 standard wasfinalized and it achieved a great deal of what XML was created to accomplish. Yes, itis not as flexible as XML in some areas, but overall it serves the same purpose. It has annoyed me over the last several years to read or hear people talking about all the earth-shattering new ground XML is breaking. Blah! There is really nothing new that XML brings to the table. XML is finding its way into domains that it does not belong in. For example, small config files. How many times have you had to edit a config file that only had two parameters, but was encoded as XML? Probably a bigger concern is that it is being used as a network on-the-wire encoding all over the place. This is horribly inefficient! I have been guilty of blindly using XML for network message encoding in the past. You could try to argue that with today's networks, CPU speed, cheap memory, and Moore's law that it does not matter. Well, we are not there does matter for protocols where there is high message traffic. But wait! If you use some binary encoding (such as ASN.1) you won't be able to easily read the data flowing across the network with a sniffer. Reality dictates that you won't be able to do this with XML either. In today's climate, security is priority numero uno. Do you think you will be sending that XML as clear text across the network?