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Re: going back to stone axes

At 11:14 2/27/96, Michael Richardson wrote:
>  This suits me fine. It sounds to me that most of criticism of ASN.1 is
>really criticism of DER. It sounds that we can define an encoding for an email
>protocol to be ASCII based if we like.

The encoding rules get a lot of [deserved] criticism.  However, my main
complaint with ASN.1 is that it seduces people into designing data structures
in an environment divorced from the pain of implementation and the resulting
definitions are often clumsy and extremely inefficient to implement and use.

For example, there is no simple int32 in ASN.1.  To achieve that, you have
to start with an INTEGER and then add a bell/whistle which limits its
range -- but you can't just limit its number of bits -- you specify its
min and max value, and then have to decide what an internal 0 really means.
So, people rarely limit their INTEGERs -- and the resulting code has to
stumble over structures which can accomodate 400,000 bit integers, even when
the application will ralph on any integer over 12 bits.  That's just one

ASN.1 is extremely powerful.

It makes defining data structures very simple.

To me, it's like making a car so simple to drive that 4 year olds could do
it -- long before they learn not to drive on sidewalks.

|Carl M. Ellison          cme@cybercash.com   http://www.clark.net/pub/cme |
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