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Structured (XML-like) input/output for shell apps?


Many shell apps/scripts output data in tables, for example ls -l, ps aux, top, netstat, etc. At the moment, most of these apps use fixed-width columns with a variable-width last-column.
This results in (unnecessary) truncation, for example:
Debian- 11918 0.0 0.1 4428 1464 ? Ss Jun05 0:00 /usr/sbin/exim4 -bd -q30m tcp 0 0 TC218-187-80-45.2:35589 bananensaft.inline.:www ESTABLISHEDproxy 153239

Also, because the output isn't structured (in way easily readable by machines), using the data in a script isn't (very) easy and is likely to break due to strict dependency on the syntax.

Are there already any plans to solve these issues?
I was thinking, using structured output (and maybe input) in an XML-like way would solve these and allow neat post-processing. It also separates data generation and presentation, which would be an advantage if the presentation needs to be changed.

Any thoughts?



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