Sunday, June 11, 2006

Is SyncML slow? Who cares ;-)

Last week another person asked me: "is SyncML slow?". This is a question I get often, due to a campaign launched by some that claim to have a proprietary protocol 20% faster than SyncML.
Let me start answering the question with a couple of questions:
1. Is HTML the best language to design pages? I do not think so... It is actually pretty bad and it was even worst at the beginning. Though, it is easy to read, and learn. And it is a standard. It created the Internet phenomenon that changed our lives. AJAX has been invented to go around it and kick off Web 2.0 (not sure what it is, but it appears to be a cool thing).
2. Is HTTP the best protocol to transmit data? I do not think so... It is actually fairly limited, not fast but easy to read and learn. And it is a standard. Millions of users use it every day.
Now, what about SyncML? Well, it is based on XML. It has some overhead. That makes it easy to read and learn, exactly as HTML and HTTP. Is it a standard? You bet. It is installed today on some 700 millions devices.
Just because of it, I am starting to feel better about that 20% difference. I would go with an open standard over a proprietary standard any day. I would bet Stefano could write a protocol 20% faster than HTTP overnight. Unfortunately, it would not be likely that 700M people would use it. So we stick with the standard as we did in 1994, when we decided to go with HTML and HTTP.
One more thing about SyncML and, in particular, version 1.2 with push email: this is not browsing. You are not waiting for a page to download. You hear beep when your email is already on your device. The 20% difference means you will hear beep a few milliseconds before me. Big deal. SyncML might be slower than a proprietary protocol, but it is easy to read and learn, it is a standard available on almost every device on the planet and you do not even notice the difference in speed. Who cares about proprietary protocols? I certainly don't.