Google Protocol Buffers - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Google released to open-source its “language-neutral, platform-neutral, extensible way of serializing structured data for use in communications protocols, data storage, and more”: Protocol Buffers.
Google claims it’s like XML, but better mostly because: “[Protocol Buffers] are 3 to 10 times smaller, and 20 to 100 times faster”.
My feelings about this news are mixed. Like I was just telling Doug you can’t argue with Google when it comes to matters of performance and speed, BUT you can feel concerned at the fact that a giant, like Google, uses its muscle to diminish and harm the crucial standard like XML. XML took so long to get adopted, made so much possible and is still so fragile, that you can’t take this matter lightly.
OK, maybe the PB thing is faster and smaller and blah, blah, blah and maybe it’s not as cumbersome as CORBA was, so it’s not total evil, BUT (I repeat - BUT) let’s be honest here - not everybody is Google and I can bet 90% of systems just do not care about the same things Google does. So, XML is fine for most applications.
However, now that Google is pushing one more of its bloated technologies (want another example? Think GWT) - a lot of people will adopt it just because it’s a Google thing. And it may harm XML, and it may harm industry.
So, you see - as much as we all love open-source, sometimes when open-source gets intermixed with big, corporate politics - things can go south.
And last but not least, if you want more object-oriented, smaller, faster exchange format, there is JSON! JSON is well adopted and supported, so why, oh why do mere mortals like ourselves need Protocol Buffers?
We don’t. Please, don’t force us.