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20.1. WDDX Basics

In 1998, Allaire created a new XML-based technology called the Web Distributed Data Exchange, or WDDX. WDDX is an open technology for exchanging both simple and complex datatypes using a language-independent representation of the data based on an XML 1.0-compliant DTD. It is designed to be used by any number of programming languages without regard to the platforms they are running on. A number of serialization/deserialization modules have been written for a variety of popular programming and scripting languages and are freely available. For the most up-to-date information on WDDX or to obtain the SDK, please visit http://www.openwddx.org.

20.1.1. What Can You Do with WDDX?

The first question you are probably asking is "what the heck can I do with WDDX?" Well, to put it simply, you can do a hell of a lot with it. Because WDDX allows you to represent data in a completely neutral and open format, WDDX is the perfect vehicle for sharing data between applications written in different languages. Imagine that you have an application written in Perl that performs some heavy-duty massaging on a large record set. Now suppose that you want to make the cleaned up data available to another application within your company that is built in ColdFusion. How are you going to do that? You could write the data to a database and then query the database in ColdFusion, but what if the database isn't accessible to your ColdFusion application, say because it is behind a firewall? What then? You can save the record set as a delimited text file, then allow the ColdFusion application to grab it using CFHTTP or CFFTP, but that won't work because you need the datatypes of each field in the database to be preserved. Using WDDX, you can take the record set you created in your Perl application, convert it to the WDDX format, and send it to your ColdFusion application while preserving the datatypes of all of the data. Your ColdFusion application can then easily convert the data from the WDDX format into a query object that can be used in any way the application needs.


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