Binary Data in XML : Turning back the clock

Samuel R. Blackburn sblackbu at
Wed Sep 30 13:34:02 BST 1998

A couple of weeks ago on this list, there was a thread that was
lamenting the slow adoption of XML in the web community.

It seems to me that one of the first problems programmers
encounter is XML's inability to handle "binary" data. Once they
hit that wall, they drop XML and move on to something else
(usually a custom format).

If we could turn back the clock to before 19980210 and get
rid of design goal #3, handling binary data could have been
so easily handled by adding one element attribute. If the
XML spec had included one predefined attribute called
"xml:length" binary data would have been a no-brainer to
handle. Here's an example:

<BINARY_DATA xml:length="4"><<<<</BINARY_DATA>

It would take minutes to add this capability to existing parsers.

Will XML 2.0 handle binary data? Is XML 2.0 on the drawing
boards yet?


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