Re: [Json] Nudging the English-language vs. formalisms discussion forward

Tim Bray <> Wed, 19 February 2014 17:19 UTC

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Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2014 09:18:59 -0800
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From: Tim Bray <>
To: Phillip Hallam-Baker <>
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Cc: Paul Hoffman <>, JSON WG <>
Subject: Re: [Json] Nudging the English-language vs. formalisms discussion forward
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On Wed, Feb 19, 2014 at 8:52 AM, Phillip Hallam-Baker <>wrote;wrote:

> The point is to focus the discussion on the data going over the wire
> rather than the syntax.
> When the discussion is about syntax, that is usually a specification
> smell. Take HTTP's weak e-tags
> ETag: W/"who/ordered/this"
> Now syntax is the very least of the issues that ETags raise. But the
> resort to this particular syntax should have at least been a hint of the
> problems to come.
> Another peculiarity of the HTTP spec, there are two encodings for dates
> that parsers must support. Both contain completely useless information (why
> does a machine need to know the day of the week anyway). Both are
> needlessly verbose but we are talking about compressing headers rather than
> not sending irrelevant data. If people had not got into the weeds on syntax
> we might have come up with a better caching model.
> I don't see the value in having multiple encodings for a Web Service. But
> I would much rather do that than end up with two separate specifications
> because one group wanted ASN.1 and the other XML or some people want JSON
> and others must have XML.
> XML Web services have a whole ecology that some people are very heavily
> bought into. They really can't use a specification that doesn't play nice
> with that system.
> JSON is the future for new work. But just as the PKIX people had a point
> when they asked for an ASN.1 version of KEYPROV, there are going to be
> people whose existing infrastructure is XML who want to make use of work
> being done by a WG producing a JSON spec.
> The point is that the function of this group and any other platform level
> group is to support the work of the IETF WGs and the other groups that want
> to build on top. If we can provide them with a mechanism that allows them
> to provide a smooth transition path to the common encoding syntax, that
> helps them meet their goals.
> --
> Website: