White Hairs & Binary Protocols

Binary vs Text — Text Won

Back in the olden days when bandwidth and cpu were hard to come by we used binary rather than text protocols to communicate between processes. This was because binary protocols took up less space on the wire and they took fewer cpu cycles to encode and decode. One of the most “popular” binary encodings was Abstract Syntax Notation 1 (ASN.1).

Binary is Back

Now that microservice architectures are generating loads of traffic, text-based protocols are looking too resource-expensive again so we’re turning back to binary protocols. But have we learned the lessons that put us off them in the first place?

What Lessons Does ASN.1 Teach Us About Modern Binary Protocols?

ASN.1 was a very early (1984) binary protocol standard that was invented to solve the same kind of problems as modern protocol buffers. So what was wrong with it?



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