JSON vs XML: Outlining the Difference Between Them

JSON vs XML in 2021
JSON vs XML in 2021

Introduction

Before we hop onto JSON vs XML, let us understand that there are large volumes of data just flying around. Be it mobile applications, web applications, or even desktop applications, data processing has become vital for providing the users with a customised experience by responding with logic in accordance with the user’s interaction with the website.

There are two powerful tools available for fetching, processing, and interchange of data popular in the current time – JSON vs XML.

But which one is the most suitable for your application?

Which one offers better readability?

Which one offers better performance.

What is JSON?

JSON or JavaScript Object Notation is a premium tool for data interchange over websites. JSON as the name suggests has been written in JavaScript. However, its applications do not depend on any particular language. JSON gained popularity over the last few years with the rising popularity of REST APIs

But why exactly is JSON preferable over the other conventional tools that exist?

JSON is easy to read and has in-built parsing methods which does away with the need of writing code manually for parsing data. Having these features incorporated into itself, JSON becomes a better choice when large volumes of data have to be interpreted and processed in less time. 

History of JSON

Do you remember clicking ‘allow’ to popups on your browser screens for allowing websites to use Flash? 

Earlier, Flash or Java applets had to be used to initiate a communication link between the server and the browser. JSON emerged as a solution to the issue and brought forward a stateless and real-time tool for server-browser communication without loading the website with any additional plugins. 

Douglas Crockford was the one who specified JSON and made sure it was popularised enough. The official website (json.org) came into the picture in 2002 and by 2005, big companies like Yahoo! started to utilise JSON in their web services. 

Features of JSON

A JSON code snippet containing the information of this blog.

{
  "blogName": "JSON vs XML",
  "platform":"Coding Ninjas Blog",
  "authors":"Coding Ninjas",
  "likes":"100",
  "views": "150"
}
  1. As seen in the example above, JSON is clean and is extremely easy to read. It is almost as if you were reading English where there exist key-value pairs. 
  2. JSON is completely free and is available for commercial and non-commercial use on platforms all across the digital space. 
  3. JSON is performance optimised meaning it takes up the minimum amount of memory space on your applications and is perfectly suitable for large projects which deal in the exchange for large volumes of data such as navigation systems. 
  4. There are tools available in almost every language to directly parse JSON data which means it is compatible with a large number of programming languages. 
  5. JSON is one of the few libraries which require no external dependency for its execution and processing. 

Pros of JSON

  1. JSON is largely scalable as it supports all modern browsers. By using JSON you will have to worry about one less thing about your web application. 
  2. JSON is extremely easy to learn. It is literally plain simple English. You just need to be aware of what kind of data you will be processing and write the code accordingly. 
  3. The creation of JSON is easy, the editing of JSON is easy, the manipulation of JSON is easy. If there was an award for being the easiest, JSON would be the undefeated champion. 
  4. If you are a JavaScript developer, JSON is indeed your go-to library for it is supported by almost all frameworks built-in JavaScript. 
  5. Modern backend tools, frameworks and languages all have extensive support for JSON. 

Cons of JSON

  1. Even after a large number of programming languages have support for parsing JSON data, JSON is supported by only a handful of development tools. 
  2. JSON does not offer namespace support.

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What is XML?

Extensible Markup Language or XML has been one of the oldest and widely trusted choices for the interchange of data. XML offers not only data exchange but also has support for data validation. For this particular reason, XML is preferred in applications requiring data security and validation – banking applications, e-commerce stores are few examples that utilise the features of XML in their web applications. 

History of XML

XML was released for the first time in February 1998 developed by a team of eleven developers. It is a subset of SGML. The fun fact is, these eleven people were never in the same room while developing XML. Too much inspiration for today’s work from a home setting. 

Pros of XML

An XML code snippet containing information about this blog.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<Blog>
    <BlogName>JSON vs XML in 2021</BlogName>
    <Platform>Coding Ninjas Blog</Platform>
    <Authors>Coding Ninjas</Authors>
    <Likes>100</Likes>
    <Views>150</Views>
</Blog>
  1. Data is quickly exchanged, interpreted and processed across a number of platforms. 
  2. XML syntax structure is similar to that of HTML syntax structure, however, XML beautifully keeps the data in question separate from the HTML structure of the web application. 
  3. XML helps to create beautiful and interactive web applications which can provide content and return data to the user based on the logic of the website. 
  4. Since XML has an HTML like syntax structure, the search results are more accurate when XML is used. 
  5. Automation is possible when one is using the power of XML. 

Cons of XML

  1. XML needs an external application to help process the data it has fitched. 
  2. XML syntax can be easily confused with HTML syntax and important data can be overlooked. 

Structure of XML vs JSON

Here is an example of a code snippet in both XML vs JSON containing details of one of my favourite tracks.

Code Snippet in XML:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<Spotify>
    <LikedSongs>
        <TrackName>If I Lose Myself</TrackName>
        <Artist>Ascence</Artist>
        <Writers>
            <Writer1>Benny Blanco</Writer1>
            <Writer2>Brent Kutzle</Writer2>
            <Writer3>Mark Faskovich</Writer3>
            <Writer4>Ryan Tedder</Writer4>
            <Writer5>Zach Filkins</Writer5>
        </Writers>
        <Producer>Mark Faskovich</Producer>
        <Source>Soave Records</Source>
    </LikedSongs>
</Spotify>

Code snippet in JSON:

{
  "Spotify":{
    "LikedSongs":{
      "TrackName":"If I Lose Myself",
      "Artist":"Ascence",
      "Writers":["Benny Blanco","Brent Kutzle","Mark Faskovich","Ryan Tedder","Zach Filkins"],
      "Producer":"Mark Faskovich",
      "Source":"Soave Records"
    }
  }
}

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which is the best JSON or XML?

It is important for developers to learn both JSON and XML when it comes to data exchange. JSON and XML both have their separate use cases and they both will continue to co-exist for a long time now.

What is the difference between JSON and XML when you would use JSON vs XML?

The difference between JSON vs XML can be understood by reading the blog above. JSON can be used when you need faster processing of large volumes of data but if you require security and do not mind external processors, XML is your go to thing.

Why is XML more secure than JSON?

XML is more secure than JSON since it has an in-built validation support.

Is XML still used in 2021?

Yes, XML is still used in 2021.

Conclusion

JSON is an emerging technology given the fact that modern applications nowadays utilize Cloud and APIs and JSON fits in perfectly with such applications. However, XML is user friendly, more secure and offers the users a fairly customised advantage. Many applications have their codebase written in XML already and hence where you will be working and contributing also plays an important role. 

When there are two separate tools available, biases towards one tool leads to restriction and rigidity of your ideas. Being a developer is all about solving problems. Whatever problem you have in front of you, think and analyse which tool can be better for your application in terms of scalability, ease of implementation and performance. 

Happy Learning

By Pooja Gera