XML size (was: no subject)

Bill Gribble grib@linuxdevel.com
03 Apr 2002 09:10:02 -0600

On Wed, 2002-04-03 at 08:54, Derek Atkins wrote:
> Note that this will not only fail to do what you want, but could leave
> your data file unreadable and unusable.  This is _EXACTLY_ the kind of
> thing that we DON'T want people to be doing!  If you want to change
> your data you should use the application to do it.  

Extremely Strongly Disagree.

I think it's a fundamental part of the Unix and free software philosophy
that the data belongs to the user, not to the application.  "It's none
of your d**n business what I do with my data!"  If the user wants to
pipe their data through perl or sed or whatnot that's their business.

That's the main reason *I* wanted to go to the XML format to start
with.  People *hate* applications that bottle their data up in opaque
formats.  Databases get a special exemption because of the extremely
delicate nature of the interrelationships between bits of data, but all
real dbs have a way to dump text (SQL) that can be used to exactly
restore the db.  Not just a text "export" (which is usually lossy) but a
dump which exposes all of the data's guts. 

Sure, it's ill-advised to make precipitous changes to your XML data
file, but it's also ill-advised to make precipitous changes to the
kernel source code... does that mean it shouldn't be available for easy