… or, “Everything old is new again!“
Yesterday, Google announced Protocol Buffers, their data interchange format and API libraries. Before I say anything else, I want to say I’m glad they did it: it uses neither XML nor ASN.1, which means someone at Google has a clue.
What bothers me is that yet again, what was old is new again–their on-the-wire encoding of the data is simply TLV and AOL has been using SNAC/TLV for at least 15 years now. However, AOL’s SNAC/TLV covers a lot more use cases than what Protocol Buffers does. Then, there’s AOL’s FLAP transport for SNAC which Google hasn’t even approached. There’s still a lot more “work” that Google has to do–or, just use what AOL’s already proven works.
Of course, Google gets the community pat-on-the-back because they released this publically whereas AOL still has it hidden behind some proprietary lock and key. AOL, this is another technology opportunity missed: you could have continued to keep your internal, proprietary technology relevant if you’d simply opened this stuff up, first. Now, you’ll have to continue to replace it–at a huge sunk cost–with “standards-based implementations.” Oops.
In the end, I’m glad to finally see someone not blindly drinking the XML Kool-Aid. Maybe there’s hope, yet.