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Communications of the ACM


XML and JSON Are Like Cardboard

XML, JSON, illustration


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Today's world, cardboard is an ever-important part of life. Given the major investment of resources and money, you might question whether it's worth it. It turns out the efficiencies and savings from cardboard outstrip the costs to manufacture and later recycle it.

Semi-structured representations of data are not the cheapest format. There is typically a lot of extra stuff like angle brackets contained in it. JSON, XML, and other semi-structured representations allow for wonderful flexibility and dynamic interpretation. The efficiencies and savings gained from flexibility more than make up for the overhead.


Biplav Srivastava

This was a fun and information analogy between XML/JSON and Cardboard. Thanks!

Extending a bit. A concern with cardboard is that it may get soiled/ weakened if exposed to water or moisture. So, precious content is often covered by a plastic packaging and then protected by cardboard. Similarly, data contents with special symbols like i18n, binary and image need to be protected with the plastic packaging of escape characters.

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