Monday, March 14, 2011

New Standard Makes the Web More Energy Efficient

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced version 1.0 of the "Efficient XML Interchange (EXI) Format" (10 March 2011). EXI represents XML data in a more compact binary format, with a claimed 100-fold performance improvement. W3C see this being used for smart phones, sensor networks, cameras, auto-mobiles, real-time trading systems, and high speed aircraft.

Compression of ordinary XML would take care of most of the bandwidth issues for devices such as smart phones. However, if very large amounts of data are being transmitted by sensor devices, then this would be of use. It would also be interesting to see if it would be feasible to apply XML to areas where it has not been used before, such as the surveillance data being transmitted from a UAV (robot aircraft).

Some of the benefits of XML are lost with EXI, such as its human readable format. But than while the text of XML could be read, in most cases the for mat of the data is so complex that without the schema used it will make little sense to anyone. At least with EXI as soon as the reader (human or machine) realises the data is in EXI, they will have a standardised format to interpret.

There is also the potential to use EXI to compress XML data for transmission or storage, without the cooperation of the creating and consuming applications. It might also be used to make XML based document formats, such as OOXML, ODF and epub more efficient. But given these already use compression algorithms, there savings may be too small to be worth the additional complexity.

So far EXI has been incorporated into ZigBee Smart Energy V2.0 for smart electricity meters and appliances. One application is for charging electric vehicles. There is a Go Get modified Prius parked at a charge point in Glebe Point Road, Sydney.

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