A beautiful rant from Morbus Iff on why beauty is important in computer file formats.

Bill Kearney:

So what [if the syntax is verbose]? It's not like a person is ever going to be reading it.

How many different versions of Mona Lisa are hidden beneath the one we know and love? Why do we care? Why are we spending all this money to look into it, when we know that they're not the versions he wanted us to see?

Do you think a few people are going to write these files in a normal text editor? Is reading different than writing (it took me about five minutes to write the block above)? If we want this format to be big, do we want to make an assumption that no one is ever going to read it? Why is XML in plain text anyways? If it's only going to be read by computers, why even bother with names that a human can read? The below is many times faster to write.

      <f:nDomain r:rsrc="afghanistan" />
      <f:nD r:rsrc="usa" />

Nuclear reactors are bad. Big ass radio towers are bad. But you know what they're doing with radio towers in our town? They've literally got one dressed up like a tree - it looks like a really fake tree, but from a distance it looks real nonetheless. People are more accepting of things that look good (that whole code shui thing I bitch about once or twice in every tech mL I'm on), then things that may work better (better reception without branches).

The format, at this point, is "pretty". It's easily readable. It's easy for edd to write about in a dW article. It's easy for me to say "yeah, this is why you want to do it, it's easy". The above is just plain ooky, and I probably wouldn't even mention it in a tutorial (which, of course, gives an easy hook for others to say "well, then don't!").

But people keep telling me to trust the verbosity. Argh. Can someone beat into me why something simpler wouldn't work? Help me understand I'm making some newbish mistake.