Will EXI Mean XML Everywhere?
Efficient XML accelerates the performance of XML and reduces its data representation
October 19, 2007 —
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W3C is working on a solution to bandwidth-hogging, clunky XML.
In the battle of bandwidth, binary beats text any timeand thats the purpose of Efficient XML Interchange (EXI), an emerging specification under development by the World Wide Web Consortium. EXI is a binary syntax for XML based upon the conclusions of the W3C XML Binary Characterization Working Group.
EXI makes more judicious use of bandwidth and hardware, and it fulfills W3Cs objective to produce a standard binary XML that integrates with plain text XML.
According to John Schneider, co-editor of the EXI working draft, the main objective of EXI is to expand the use of XML where it was not the best option before, due to its inherent performance overhead. Satellite transmissions are one example of a case where a binary XML data stream would be noticeably more cost-effective than conventional XML, he noted.
Schneider described EXI as a very efficient Web data format that accelerates anything using XML today. In particular, it makes Web services data smaller and faster to process than plain text XML. EXI has a smaller data representation than conventional XML with data compression or previous binary XML specifications, and it simultaneously eliminates bottlenecks of bandwidth and processing speed, he explained.
It is unlike data compression, which has overhead associated with it, explained Schneider, whose day job is as CTO of AgileDelta, which makes XML parsers. XML is verbose and inefficient; [EXI] streamlines all of [the processing] with the minimal size representation of XML information possible, said Schneider. We want to make it competitive with hand-optimized binary formats.
Schneider touted EXIs performance over hardware-accelerated, but still textual, XML. There are people out there that are buying XML accelerators and hardware to speed up XML processing. It can get two to three times faster with hardware, but it generally doesnt do anything for bandwidth. When W3C tested EXI, it was, on average, 12 to 14 times faster than processing normal XML.