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WBXML support in C# or let’s make it smaller

Dear visitors, 03 01 6A 00 00 01 41 42 03 57 42 58 4D 4C 20 50 72 6F 67 72 61 6D 6D 65 72 00 01 43 03 48 65 6C 6C 6F 2C 20 57 6F 72 6C 64 21 00 01 01. Do you know what I’m talking about? Those 45 bytes string means following 208 bytes XML

<hello-world>
<greeter>WBXML Programmer</greeter>
<greeting>Hello, World!</greeting>
</hello-world>

Basically, XML is very easy language. It’s easy to understand, parse and use. However, XML is very inefficient for transport. In order to send this small XML file, you have to transfer more, then 200 bytes, when actually meanful information is two strings. This is not critical issue, when we are working in LAN environment. However it becomes very critical while working with mobile customers. That’s the reason of inventing WAP Binary XML (or WBXML).

This language uses name tables (tokens) to convert nodes and attributes into one byte value and this way it saves a lot of unnecessary information to be transferred. WBXML specification is very easy, however .NET (even Compact) framework lack of XmlDocument, that supports this content format.

Is it common enough to lean and use? Well, this is tricky question. From one hand, all of mobile content providers (even those, who dealing with mobile synchronization) widely uses this format. From the other hand, if you are no really “in” mobile (or any other bandwidth efficient) programming, you do not need it.

I think, that one of most important things in programming (in general) is to be efficient, so I decided to write XmlDocument derived class to provide WBXML support.

How to use it?

- First create name tables (you do not have to, if you are using only one token)

Dictionary<int, Dictionary<byte, string>> tokens = new Dictionary<int, Dictionary<byte, string>>();

Dictionary<byte, string> token = new Dictionary<byte, string>();
token.Add(1, “hello-world”);
token.Add(2, “greeter”);
token.Add(3, “greeting”);

tokens.Add(1, token);

- Then create new WBXmlDocument instance with those tables

System.Xml.WBXmlDocument doc = new System.Xml.WBXmlDocument(tokens);

- Now you can either use is as normal XmlDocument

doc.LoadXml(“<hello-world><greeter>WBXML Programmer</greeter><greeting>Hello, World!</greeting></hello-world>”);

- And then create it’s binary representation

byte[] bytes = doc.GetBytes();

- Or load incoming byte array

doc.Load(bytes);

- And get your XmlDocument

string xml = doc.DocumentElement.OuterXml;

Pretty easy, isn’t it?  Download WBXmlDocument.cs

Please note:

  • This is not final version
  • It tests not enough
  • There are known issues with attributes parsing
  • It does not implements full specification (I did it for my own needs)
  • Each company might have their own protocol, that can bi slight different from official specification (SyncML for example)
  • You can know token tables only if you’ll get full specification of target protocol. Private tokens are not transferred according the protocol

If you want to help and enhance this solution, feel free to do it, however, know, that I release the source under restrictive CPL. You can use this code or code, derived from this code in either open source, free or commercial application, however, you should clearly provide my name “Tamir Khason” and link to my blog http://blogs.microsoft.co.il/blogs/tamir/ or my private web site http://khason.biz within any distribution of the software. For more information, contact me.

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12 Responses to “WBXML support in C# or let’s make it smaller”

  1. Kiran Says:

    What if the XML input has attributes too?

    I tried the following xml:

    <hello-world>

    <greeter id="1">WBXML Programmer</greeter>

    <greeting>Hello, World!</greeting>

    </hello-world>

    and i get the following error @ line-298 in the lookupLocalAttrs function:

    Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

    The LocalAttributes object is null.

    Is there any mistake i am making? Is there any way i can add the attributes to the Dictionary?

  2. someguy Says:

    Token ids shall start from 5, so:

    token.Add(5, "hello-world");

    token.Add(6, "greeter");

    token.Add(7, "greeting");

    and result will be

    03 01 6A 00 00 01 45 46 03 57 42 58 4D 4C 20 50 72 6F 67 72 61 6D 6D 65 72 00 01 47 03 48 65 6C 6C 6F 2C 20 57 6F 72 6C 64 21 00 01 01

    :-)

  3. Blogumdan Says:

    Yes, İts not working.

  4. tester Says:

    WBXmlDocument.cs is not work at all.

  5. AnHund Says:

    what if the XML input has a more complex structure with lots of attributes, how do you tokenize that?

    Thanks.

  6. DotNetKicks.com Says:

    You’ve been kicked (a good thing) – Trackback from DotNetKicks.com

  7. Tamir Khason Says:

    John, unfourchantely, XSI is not approved and final protocol. Thus it can not be used in production application. I agree with you, that this format is much more efficient and lookes very nice, but until it will be approved, most of mobile applications will continue to work with WBXML

  8. John Says:

    WBXML is one of the early binary XML technologies. The newer ones are smaller, faster and apply to broader set of use cases.

    The World Wide Web Consoritum (W3C) is standardizing a single binary XML format — see http://www.w3.org/…/WD-exi-20070716.

    There are implementations available for .NET, .NET CF, Java, Java Mobile, etc. See http://www.agiledelta.com/product_efx.html.

  9. Johan de Koning Says:

    Tamir,

    I read your blog on CodeProject about WBXML. Because I needed some WBXML parsing I started a open souce project which implements a parser (encoder/decoder) based on the WBXML specifications.

    Look for more information at http://wbxml.codeplex.com/

  10. Tamir Says:

    Johan, if you need help – just ask.

  11. James Says:

    too slow or not worked yet

  12. blog nodes world Says:

    hi!,I like your writing very much! share we keep up a correspondence extra about your post on AOL? I need an expert on this space to unravel my problem. Maybe that is you! Taking a look ahead to see you.

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