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There are a variety of open, standardized options, and the ideal choice depends on the applications requirements and pre-existing functionality.
For example, SOAP-based web services format the data in an XML payload wrapped within a SOAP envelope.
While XML works well for many application scenarios, it has some drawbacks that make it less than ideal for others.
One such space where XML is often less than ideal is with Ajax-style web applications.
Ajax is a technique used for building interactive web applications that provide a snappier user experience through the use of out-of-band, lightweight calls to the web server in lieu of full-page postbacks.