Subject: Re: "Well, I want to switch over to replace EMACS LISP with Guile."
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 29 Sep 2002 07:43:57 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Tim Josling
| Yes it is ASN.1. I personally prefer XML myself, but MYYV.

  Do you prefer XML to Common Lisp?  Have you ever implemented anything that
  talks ASN.1 in the native language compared to implementing something based
  on DOM?

  Knocking ASN.1 is common and accepted in some circles.  I have yet to meet
  one person who has been critical of ASN.1 who has any idea what it is like.
  It has this property in common with Common Lisp -- it is usually attacked
  only by people who have no idea what the language is like.  It is an amazing
  property of people who think they are so smart they do not need to know
  something before they make pronouncement about it that they do not even
  understand that their credibility is blown to bits.  It is probably part of
  the exaltation of illiteracy in the part of society that works with IT.

  By the way, the SGML Document Interchange Format (ISO 9069) uses ASN.1 to
  ship SGML documents around.  I wrote an implementation of SDIF in three days.
  Test runs showed that a major CALS application consumed approximately 40% of
  the character count of the SGML file, and with the then commonly available
  tools to parse and process SGML documents and ASN.1 processors, the SDIF data
  stream took around 1/200th as much CPU time and about 75% of the memory to
  reconstruct the identical in-memory version of the document.  This experiment
  was among the many data points that led me to conclude that SGML is insane
  and that those who think it is rational to require parsing of character data
  at each and every application interface are literally retarded and willfully
  blind.  Also, an SDIF data stream can only represent a validated document and
  the kinds of errors you get when parsing ASN.1 are unforgiving.  There is no
  doubt in my mind that if SDIF had won over the insanely verbose text format,
  even things like HTML would have been moderately sane.  Not to mention the
  fact that images could have been carried in the same data stream.  The world
  would have been a better place if SDIF had won over HTML, and if the nutjobs
  who "invented" XML had been moderately in touch with reality, they would have
  realized the insanity of requiring the verbose end-tags and the stupid syntax.
  XML-RPC and SOAP and the like could have been fairly inexpensive things.
  But, alas, people prefer buggy text formats that they can approximate rather
  than precise binary formats that follow general rules that are make them as
  easy to use as text formats.  Rationality is not part of the SGML philosophy,
  however, and SDIF was mainly an effort to keep the ODA and ODIF folks at bay
  and was a purely political stunt, not intended to be implemented.  When I
  went ahead and did it, I was not exactly applauded for the effort.  The fact
  that it was /vastly/ more efficient in all respects than the stupid character
  syntax was /most/ unwelcome by the community.

  So, what is your actual experience with ASN.1?

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway                 Today, the sum total of the money I
                                          would retain from the offers in the
more than 7500 Nigerian 419 scam letters received in the past 33 months would
have exceeded USD 100,000,000,000.  You can stop sending me more offers, now.