Saturday, 7 November 2009

XML and partnerships don't mix nor match. 1 + 1 doesn't equal 3

After some last fights about EDIFACT/X12 versus XML on LinkedIn, Matt Asay on Twitter tweeted about Fudge, a hierarchical, typesafe, binary, self-describing message encoding system

And I actually like that. But, there's one showstopper to me: the self-describing part, which it has in common with XML

I have two wonderful daughters, who often play with eachother. Most of the time they'll just invent a game, making up the rules as they go. Especially the oldest is great at changing the rules during the game so she can keep ending up winning. The youngest usually puts up with that until she's fed up with it, and quits playing with her sister

I just had my end-of-year evaluation at work. We had a look at our writings on what we decided we'd achieve this year, and had a good chat about that. We did have some more or less crazy ideas and initiatives during the year, but they didn't make it further than a few drinks and never were chiseled down so we just used those as input for the goals and milestones for next year, which we did then write down

At home, we had to get a babysitter this week because I had made a double appointment, which I managed to squeeze into the agenda just the day before. It's in the agenda! I tried but my wife laughed at me as we both know very well that putting something on the shared agenda in perfect isolation just a day before is not what agenda's are for

All these have in common that everything we do is based on agreements. Keeping those agreements is normal, changing or breaking them leads to dis-agreement. Disagreements can lead to arguments which can lead to fights which can lead to wars and all that is very bad for business

Conducting EDI, B2B, anything about doing business is all about relationship and partners who make agreements that are written down. A few times a week we mindlessly OK a license when we install or update software or tools - which actually contains the agreement between us and the software provider, and by which we then mutually agree at that very moment

You can't just change these agreements unilaterally. You can't just decide to call your kid John in stead of Lisa, show up drunk for work, or shoot the running guy just before he makes it to fourth base. Basically, there are a lot of fun / slapstick movies based on breaking agreements, rather than keeping them

So, why the need for self-describing documents? Don't you have a relationship and an agreement with the party at the other end? Do you really want to allow for unilaterally changed agreements? Why give room to disagreements? Self-describing documents will lead to disagreement, unless there is no agreement to disagree upon. Without an agreement, there's no relationship, let alone partnership. You can't just change 10 into 12 or -5, that would be like saying that 1 + 1 equals 3

Quoting Peter Wilman: XML Standards? That's a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one

1 reacties:

Randy McClure said...


Good point. B2B is all about agreements. You have to have an agreement about what data is being sent. EDI/EDIFACT does that explicitly.

XML does not have an explicit agreement on what data will be sent, what the data means, what the format will be, and so on. To do B2B with XML you have to workout side of XML to come up with an agreement. You have to write a proprietary specification (agreement) outside of XML in order to exchange XML data between one business system and another business system.

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