Thanks for all the great input.
I used the term "lossy" mainly for the purists who will moan that their CR LF's won't be "in the same order", removal of extra spacing, and comments (which I really don't see why they exist). It's a trivial transformation & optimisation.
The format I use is the Poser. This is heavily intensive on detail, so there is always a mass of redundancy in the files (a Blender file, for example, would contain only 20% the amount of a Poser version). Converting it to binary would be a serious boon - however introducing something so "drastic" would make most of the art-world cry. I currently have a collection of these files eating up around 300Gb - whereby converting & optimising their various ASCII formats & JPEG/PNG files would reduce that immensely.
Willarfar is correct on the point of "mirroring". To my knowledge, most models indeed mirror themselves to some degree. Sometimes there are extra details here & there, but his rule is constant in the models I have.
I picked on the OBJ format here because of how widely used it is. However that is just a tiny part of a bigger routine I will be working on. If you wish to see what i'm referring to, then grab the Victoria 4.2 base model from daz3d. Once it's installed, the files are 26.5Mb in size. Then you need to run their "initialise" routine which unpacks their data to a massive 26.7Mb (yes - they compress it to save .2Mb! The decompression routine is around 3Mb). In the files from DAZ3D - they use the BitRock installer which is LZMA2 compression (for text & images), whereas other companies release models using a plain ZIP on the files. So yes, a hell of a lot of redundancy in these files. BitRock, incidently, leaves an overbloated file for uninstalling, which is left on your HDD. It also seems to cause an error when uninstalling a few files at a time - but that's another story.
Already there are many great routines to address the images by optimising the DEFLATE. In respect to the OBJ files, keeping all the essential data intact is paramount to the format I use. However, there are occasions whereby you can use the textures as "hints" to the OBJ file itself. Furthermore, you could go one step beyond that and use the OBJ file to "trim" the texture files too.
Another annoyance of the Poser format is their multitude of files, such as the PZ2 format (ASCII) which looks something like;
I'm sure you can see how even a simple transformation would benefit this kind of file. Yes, they are folder & file pointers. It makes lots and lots of folders *sigh*
// This file calls all _ERC poses in all sub-directories.
readScript ":Runtime:libraries:!DAZ:Victoria 4:hip:01-ps_pe069_DAZ_ERC.pz2"
readScript ":Runtime:libraries:!DAZ:Victoria 4:abdomen:02-ps_pe069_DAZ_ERC.pz2"
readScript ":Runtime:libraries:!DAZ:Victoria 4:chest:03-ps_pe069_DAZ_ERC.pz2"
readScript ":Runtime:libraries:!DAZ:Victoria 4:neck:04-ps_pe069_DAZ_ERC.pz2"
readScript ":Runtime:libraries:!DAZ:Victoria 4:head:05-ps_pe069_DAZ_ERC.pz2"
My aim is two-fold.
1. To create a way to archive these files using optimisation, transformation & compression. I have around 15,000 of these files archived with a bulk being "zip" format (or "rar" format where i've quickly repacked them for archiving) which makes installing them an annoyance. To make things simple for myself, i'm aiming to create my own "installer" for these, so no plug-ins needed for this type of archiving. This is something for another thread.
2. Which is what i'm doing here. Create an open-source format that is "seemingly instant" in transformation, that artists can still "look at the big numbers in notepad", and is easy to port to any 3D routine or platform. That way the purists won't argue too much. We all know that converting these files to binary would be a massive step - and maybe it is the way to go forward. Surely the day of ASCII in art is dated.
In my own opinion, the OBJ format is way too redundant - however using decent transformation & compression and stating "This will save you a lot of time & space" would be similar to handing a Ferrari to a caveman. I guess a lot of people just like to be able to look at the big numbers in notepad.