Extensible Markup Language (XML)

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a language that is similar to Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). XML is simple and efficient and allows programmers to create customized tags. XML works in conjunction with software that reads and processes its information. The language is used primarily by web developers as a meta-language, which means that it can be used to define other languages. Different presentation styles including Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and Extensible Style Sheets (XSL) can be created using XML.

XML offers a simple and convenient way to categorize data. With XML, it is easier to read, access, interpret, and manipulative information. As a result, XML provides a major advantage in transporting information. XML standardizes representations of structured information so that it is easier for computers and people to work with the language. Since XML data is stored in text format, upgrades between operating systems, applications, and browsers are more streamlined with minimal data loss. XML can be used to create new Internet languages, and data can be made available to all kinds of reading machines including handheld computers, voice machines, and news feeds.

How It Works

XML is used in many aspects of web development, especially for simplifying data storage, encoding documents, and sharing data. A basic introduction to XML is available here. XML can be thought of as a language that supports other languages rather than a programming language. XML contrasts with HTML since there are no established tags, and you can use XML to create new languages by defining meta-tags. The language focuses upon what the data means. For example, you can define an address through an “address” meta-tag, and you can define a name through a “name” meta-tag. The name “John,” could be explained by the meta-tag “name” in XML.

You can edit XML through plain text in programs such as Notepad or Microsoft Word in any operating system. XML is not analogous to HTML: XML organizes and explains data while HTML formats it. You need a program that reads the tags from the XML file. The XML file organizes and explains the data while the XML-compatible program interprets and executes it.

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