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8.5 Final Words on Performance and Size

For many XML projects, performance is not as important as people think. Parsing an XML document takes very little time, often a millisecond or less. Typically, an application will spend several orders of magnitude more time processing the information than parsing it, so even a 1,000 percent improvement in parsing time would speed up the typical application too little to matter.

Parsing time does start to matter for applications that need to run at I/O speed, however, and it matters greatly for network appliances that need to run at wire speed. These applications may need specialized solutions, such as XML parsers burned into silicon. Such components are starting to appear, but it will take time before they have an opportunity to prove their performance and value in the field.

For everyone else, the most important optimizations for size and speed come not in XML parsing but in how applications work with the information once an XML parser has delivered it and what encodings they use to store it on disk. Few of the techniques introduced in this chapter will magically eliminate all performance and size problems; used together, however, they may make an application fast enough for today's requirements and, perhaps, even for tomorrow's.

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