W3C issues compact XML standard

The EXI standard reduces demands for network utilization, processing power, and energy when processing XML

The World Wide Web Consortium on Thursday issued a standard for a compact form of XML for use on smartphones and devices with memory or bandwidth constraints.

W3C's EXI (Efficient XML Interchange) standard offers a compact representation of XML information; XML has served as a mechanism for exchange of data on the Web and elsewhere. "[EXI is] an optimization of the XML exchange," said John Schneider, editor of the EXI specification and CTO of AgileDelta.

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The company's technology has provided a basis for EXI, he said. EXI reduces demands for network utilization, processing power, and energy when processing XML. Support is anticipated on software platforms like Java and Microsoft .Net. EXI solutions already exist from companies like AgileDelta, with its Efficient XML product line. Work already is going on to support EXI in development toolkits, W3C officials said.

"Even though [XML is] used everywhere, it's not used in some places because [of] constraints like giant documents or battery consumption or limited bandwidth," said Liam Quin, XML activity lead at W3C. Use cases for EXI, in addition to wireless phone applications, include sensor networks, cameras, automobiles, real-time trading systems, and other scenarios.

The standard results from a W3C effort to combat fragmentation in the space, in which application-specific approaches proliferated for a more efficient form of XML. The first draft of what is now EXI was released by W3C in 2007. W3C officials anticipate EXI could even displace XML at some user sites.

In a statement, Canon lauded the release of EXI. "While XML has widely been used for data exchange among Web services and devices, the use of XML on resource-constrained devices has always been an issue due to its processing overhead," said Shigeki Shibayama, deputy group executive of Canon's Digital Platform Technology Development Headquarters. "Canon is very pleased by the release of W3C EXI Format 1.0 Recommendation as a standard interoperable compact form of XML. We expect EXI will enable us to provide compelling Web services on consumer devices like printers and digital cameras."

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