Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Google Format

Google recently released their proprietary storage format, Protocol Buffers, to the Open Source Community. It's a platform independent format to serialize (programmatically store/encode) data and objects. The big advantage is that it is fast and tight - at least an order of magnitude over XML (Extensible Markup Language), which often seems to be touted as the magic bullet. The truth is that, like everything else, there are strengths and weaknesses to each - it really depends on your application. Need to be human readable - go XML. Don't know who you'll be talking to on the distant end - XML. But if you want to use a small, fast format for large data transfers, Protocol Buffers may be for you!
I'm not sure how I feel about this one. On one hand new formats and technologies are beneficial, particularly open source ones like this. On the other, standardization is king. "Don't reinvent the wheel" seems particularly relevant here. Ultimately, it's unlikely that you'll ever deal with this directly. Hopefully you reap the benefits inside an application that you didn't even realize was using the technology!

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