What is XML?

XML, like HTML and JavaScript, is a language for building data on the Internet, intranets and other computer based solutions. Unlike JavaScript and HTML, XML is far more flexible for formatting and sharing data through those channels. Yet, XML isn’t a one stop language. While it shares attributes with HTML and others, it wouldn’t replace them. XML is designed for carrying data, while most languages like HTML are for designing and displaying data. XML will be used with HTML, but never the other way around.

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and in general, unlike HTML, it does not necessarily do anything. HTML and other languages are used to create things, like websites and apps. You would use XML to describe a process or product. That description would let a user transmit a program to the individual computer maker’s websites. It would compile data and make a valid comparison in a consistent way.

XML is recommended by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). Like HTML, XML will use markup symbols to describe the contents of a web page. Only while HTML’s language will generate text, graphic images, video and other components of the page, XML breaks down content in terms of data being described. In HTML

would represent a new paragraph, which you would see on the page. With XML, could mean data that follows is a video or image.

That is actually one of the most distinctive and appealing qualities of XML. HMTL has a series of predetermined tags like

which have a single purpose. XML has no standard tags. The programmer can create tags like because the XML language comes with no predefined tags. XML allows the user to create and maintain their own tags and their own document structure, offering a tremendous amount of flexibility.

It’s this very feature that makes XML extensible, because its markup symbols are self-defining and unlimited. It is a subset of the SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), which is considered the foundation for generating document structure. Only XML is considered easier to implement. One of the platform’s earliest applications was the Channel Definition Format (CDF). Here XML was part of a channel downloaded to a hard disk that allowed the automatic and periodic updating a website as that site’s information changed. Another early application was ChartWare. ChartWare is a patient care company and utilized XML to describe medical charts that were shared by doctors across their network.

HTML can become cumbersome when attempting to display documents in anything like a mobile device or when translating content between languages (i.e., English to German). XML is easily adapted to a wide variety of contexts. XML can even be applied to situations where there may not be interaction with users (i.e., humans) such as Web Services, which utilizes XML to transmit requests and responses back and forth.

Another distinguishing trait between XML and HTML is the opening and closing of tags. HTML development can include missing end tags, can contain improper nesting and use various capitalizations. XML tags are distinctive. has to close with , not or .

XML has become an international data standard. It aims to separate structure, presentation and meaning from content. With a simple approach to document structure, it marks sections with descriptive markups, allowing the parsing of information in a variety of ways.

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