W3C Launches Compact XML Spec for Smartphones and Devices

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has introduced a new standard, Efficient XML Interchange, which improves the performance and power consumption of apps that use XML on devices.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published a new standard that will enable users to employ XML in new ways, such as in smartphones, embedded systems and a range of devices.

The new specification, known as the Efficient XML Interchange (EXI) standard, improves the performance, network efficiency and power consumption of applications that use XML. EXI is a very compact representation of XML information, making it ideal for use in smartphones, in devices with memory or bandwidth constraints, in performance-sensitive applications such as sensor networks, in consumer electronics such as cameras, in automobiles, in real-time trading systems and in many other scenarios.

"While XML has widely been used for data exchange among Web services and devices, the use of XML on resource-constrained devices has always been an issue due to its processing overhead," said Shigeki Shibayama, deputy group executive of Digital Platform Technology Development at Canon. "Canon is very pleased by the release of W3C EXI Format 1.0 Recommendation as a standard interoperable compact form of XML. We expect EXI will enable us to provide compelling Web services on consumer devices like printers and digital cameras."

The W3C said extensive testing shows that EXI performs consistently better than previous XML formats, data compression and even packed binary data formats. As such, it brings the full range of XML benefits to even the most demanding applications.

"We've been providing EXI products for seven years and are amazed with what our customers have accomplished," said John Schneider, CTO of AgileDelta and editor of the EXI specification, in a statement. "They've achieved over 100-fold performance improvements and expanded their data networks to high speed aircraft, automobiles, mobile devices and sensor networks. At the same time, they've achieved dramatic cost savings by using open Web standards and off-the-shelf products in place of the custom protocols, gateways and applications previously required by these applications."

Schneider said AgileDelta is "extremely pleased" with the W3C EXI Recommendation. He said EXI will accelerate and expand the reach of the Web, Web services and XML technologies to an unprecedented new range of applications and devices. "Our Efficient XML 4.0 product line includes very high-performance, reliable, secure EXI processors; rapid EXI integration solutions and advanced EXI features for Web services, mobile devices, embedded systems and applications running Java, Java ME, .NET, .NET CF [Compact Framework] and C/C++."

EXI also reduces fragmentation, as the W3C brought together diverse stakeholders and reviewed a broad set of use cases. The result is the EXI standard-a single, interoperable XML format that performs well consistently, across the full range of use cases.

W3C officials said EXI is already being adopted in Smart Energy Standards to support rapid communication between networks of smart meters, smart appliances and electric vehicles. EXI also accelerates financial trading systems that depend on transaction speed. EXI speeds up defense applications, where rapid information flow can help save lives. In addition, EXI can make XML a more valuable data format for Web applications on mobile devices, where reduced utilization of the network and processor improves performance and extends battery life. And EXI can be used from JavaScript in desktop Web browsers for a faster user experience.

Jorg Heuer, a program manager at Siemens, said Siemens is supporting EXI and has launched its own open EXIficient implementation in addition to contributing to the standardization process. "We believe that the Efficient XML Interchange format will open the scope of XML to restricted domains such as embedded networks of micro controllers and brings the key attributes of XML such as openness, flexibility and continuity to the embedded domain," Heuer said. "By means of EXI, embedded controller networks will become a new citizen of the Web."

EXI also will have a place in academic research. Natasha Noy, a senior research scientist at Stanford University, said EXI will be important in big physics projects for two main reasons. "First, increasingly the scientific data that large instruments deal in is structured," she said. "Second, we are beginning to integrate scientific services like mathematical modeling, instrument configuration control, historical archive data and various control optimization systems like global feedback into the basic controls platforms. That means the high-level structured data must also be communicated very quickly. This specification facilitates such exchange."

The W3C said the following organizations provided leadership, guidance, expertise and support for these efforts: Adobe, AgileDelta, BEA, Boeing, Canon, Chevron, DataPower, Expway, France Telecom, Fujitsu, High Performance Technologies, IBM, Intel, KDDI, MITRE, Objective Systems, Oracle, OSS Nokalva, Nokia, Siemens, Stanford University, Tarari, University of Helsinki and the Web3D Consortium.