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gav (2710)

gav
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Hacker in NYC.

Journal of gav (2710)

Friday March 07, 2003
09:53 PM

XML in e-commerce?

[ #10947 ]

A fair part of my job involves munging data between various formats as part as the never ending task of keeping e-commerce going. The last few days I've been helping a large retailer get their product data into a couple of different formats:

The problem is that these formats are under-documented and not really human friendly. Catalog City wants tab delimited, Kelkoo bar delimited, and Commission Junction (somewhat funky) CSV. This seems so early '90s to me.

The reason I like XML is that it is programmer friendly, consider for example:

<product>
  <id>ABC101</id>
  <price>9.99</price>
  <name>An exciting widget</name>
</product>

It's pretty obvious what's going on here and if I missed out a field it would stand out. The other advantage is that I could add <sale-price> or <description> and existing programs shoudn't break. Compare this to:

ABC101|9.99|An exiting widget

It's not really self-documenting. There's also the problem of embedded characters, what do I do if the name contains a pipe, or a newline, etc.?

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