Re: Universal Astrological Database Format

From: Bernard Peek <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 23:19:36 +0100
Message-ID: <9PGAKn249cF$>

In message <>, John Roth <> writes

>> What you really need is a standard method of exchanging data and
>> metadata, that is the logical relationships between the items of data.
>> It's the metadata that turns a pile of data into usable information.
>> The obvious system for doing this is XML. This is what it was designed
>> for. It records data and metadata and is platform independent. There are
>> programs to handle XLM with PCs, Macs and UNIX systems. Many of those
>> tools are free.
>Absolutely agree. (BTW - I'm one of the posters from AAT that's been
>working this thread. The basic problem we're having is that the
>person with the most enthusiasm for getting the job done believes
>that comma separated text files are the way to go.) ):

I take it this is someone who has never used comma-delimited files before. I have, and wouldn't willingly do it again. The problem with them is that commas appear in normal text and delimiters shouldn't. At least use an unusual character for the delimiter, I usually use the pipe (|) character.

I've worked on a lot of volunteer projects. It's usually the person who does the work that gets to make all of the major decisions. I think XML is probably the way I would choose if I were making the decisions, but I'm not.

There are some pragmatic reasons for choosing comma (or pipe) delimited files. Firstly there's the rule of thumb that the best technology to use in a new project is usually the one that you already understand. If the programmer has a lot of experience with delimited files they can probably make them work. If this person has never worked with XML it may require them to invest a substantial amount of time and effort in learning it.

The second reason, which follows from that, is that XML does restrict the available pool of developers. It's a technically superior solution, but the problems in implementing it may be managerial rather than technical. You may not be able to find the resources you need, and you probably can't throw money at the problem. (If you decide that you can throw money at the problem then I'm available. If anyone else has problems they want to throw money at then I'm available immediately.)

To persuade my industry to switch from delimited files to XML I had to convene committees and subcommittees and hold lots of meetings. It was a technically superior solution and all of the people who knew about XML agreed it was. That didn't make it any easier to get it adopted.

Bernard Peek
London, UK. DBA, Manager, Trainer & Author. Will work for money.
Received on Thu Jul 17 2003 - 00:19:36 CEST

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