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Monday, December 3, 2007

Introducing E4X (ECMAscript for XML)

ECMAscript for XML (more colloquially known as E4X) is an extension to
JavaScript that is available to both Firefox and ActionScript developers
that turns XML into a native data type on par with strings, arrays,
objects, and regular expressions. It's worth noting that a lightweight
XML protocol, LINQ, likely will be migrating to IE with its next release.
While differing somewhat in syntax from E4X (and having a considerably
broader role), LINQ will most likely be doing much the same duty in IE
that E4X does in Firefox and Flash -- providing a way of using XML easily
and cleanly without having to use the rather cumbersome mechanism of DOM.
Given the increasing dominance of XML as a messaging and transport
protocol on the server and between server and client, the use of LINQ
does open up the notion that you can take advantage of the rich
characteristics that XML has to offer without having to complexify your
code with DOM manipulation. At a minimum, if you are specifically
targeting the frameworks where E4X is supported, you should take some
time to investigate the technology, especially when dealing with the
increasingly syndicated nature of web technologies. Combining E4X and
Atom, for instance, opens up all kinds of interesting potential usages,
especially given the increasing role that Atom is playing as a data
transport protocol for companies such as Google. While it is possible
that you'll see more companies exposing JSON services, I personally see
XML-based Atom services growing far faster, and in that case the use of
a native XML datatype just cannot be beat. More Information

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