Advantages and Disadvantages of XML


June 15, 2009

Category Blog, General

Advantages of XML

1)  It supports Unicode, allowing almost any information in any written human language to be communicated.
2)  It can represent common computer science data structures: records, lists, and trees.
3)  Its self-documenting format describes structure and field names as well as specific values.
4)  The strict syntax and parsing requirements make the necessary parsing algorithms extremely simple, efficient, and consistent.
5)  XML is heavily used as a format for document storage and processing, both online and offline.
6)  It is based on international standards.
7)  It can be updated incrementally.
8)  It allows validation using schema languages such as XSD and Schematron, which makes effective unit-testing, firewalls, acceptance testing, contractual specification, and software construction easier.
9)  The hierarchical structure is suitable for most (but not all) types of documents.
10)  It is platform-independent, thus relatively immune to changes in technology.
11)  Forward and backward compatibility is relatively easy to maintain despite changes in DTD (Document Type Definition) or Schema.

Disadvantages of XML

1)  XML syntax is redundant or large relative to binary representations of similar data, especially with tabular data.
2)  The redundancy may affect application efficiency through higher storage, transmission and processing costs
3)  XML syntax is verbose, especially for human readers, relative to other alternatives ‘text-based’ data transmission formats.
4)  The hierarchical model for representation is limited in comparison to an object-oriented graph
5)  Expressing overlapping (non-hierarchical) node relationships requires extra effort.
6)  XML namespaces are problematic to use and namespace support can be difficult to correctly implement in an XML parser.
7)  XML is commonly depicted as “self-documenting” but this depiction ignores critical ambiguities.
8)  The distinction between content and attributes in XML seems unnatural to some and makes designing XML data structures harder.
9)  Transformations, even identity transforms, result in changes to format (whitespace, attribute ordering, attribute quoting, whitespace around attributes, newlines). These problems can make diff-ing the XML source very difficult.
10)  Encourages non-relational data structures (data non-normalized)
11)XML is very concrete and highly non-canonical. It introduces a very strong coupling between the actual representation chosen and the processing program (unlike relational storage and SQL)

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