comment: XML as ASCII data format
Tanya Maria Riseman
tmr at thsun7.ph.bham.ac.uk
Thu Apr 5 19:38:10 BST 2001
>XML offers a well-structured basis for an ASCII data format
>XML, extensible markup language, has all the components of data element >definitions and attributes;
>this would offer a future-proof standard for defining SAS data. (John >Barnes)
Based on my very limited experience with HTML:
1. It is a pain to type in the commands <longwindedname>
2. It is easy to leave things dangling. i.e. forget </longwindedname>.
Then it might or might not work depending on the application.
I don't care with ASCII html files, but data is more important.
It is also a waste of time to fix.
3. I spend far longer making up an HTML page than I expect to,
but that is acceptible because I reference the page more
often than I add to it or edit it. This is the opposite pattern
to how I create "reduced" data files: I keep adding to them,
and view less often.
4. Making tables in HTML is a nightmare of <this> and <that> between
every entry. Is it like that in XML for data sets? Blechhhh.
That will be enough to make me advoid it.
5. HMTL/XML encourages people to make the files "nicer" by using
browser composers, which automatically do things, not always
the most sensible way. Then you might as well use the NeXus
editor and keep your data in binary.
6. Does anybody real (i.e. nomadic scientists) actually use
XML directly? Can you use it as easy as typing a few numbers
into a spreadsheet to do a magnet calibration?
7. Remember: postscript is ASCII and sort of intended to be
human readable but no one dares to edit it directly.
On the other hand, I do not expect to get all the
goodies of "data element definitions and attributes" without
some overhead of complexity or typing. I just wonder if XML
is being pushed by the IT gurus as THE "future-proof standard"
while not actually being taken up by the intended users.
I do really want something that is ASCII-editable.
Dr. Tanya Riseman
School of Physics and Astronomy phone 44-121-414-7322
University of Birmingham fax 44-121-414-4719
Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom email: tmr at th.ph.bham.ac.uk
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