Why XML?

20 Feb 2018

Why XML? – A brief explanation


Why XML? – A brief explanation

Have you ever created a document or another type of information which you wanted or needed to share with someone else? Did you ever share that information only to receive a follow up call or email stating that the recipient’s computer or application could not open that information? Or, if the recipient did manage to open it, they could not read it because all they could see was a string of symbols and random words that made no sense?

The reason why you may have experienced this problem was because the information may have been created in some proprietary data format and could not be opened or read by an individual unless they too had the same application which also read that data format.

This type of experience has caused major headaches and challenges for both individuals and businesses alike. It has made the exchanging or sharing information unnecessarily complex, messy and very expensive. In this post-digital age, restricted proprietary data formats are unsuitable for durable widespread information sharing.

XML was developed to solve this problem. It was developed to provide a standard format to support the sharing of documents between different programs, applications, operating systems and media types.

Previously, sharing information between two computers could be problematic if they spoke different languages. Now XML allows you to create a bridge between these computers so that they can exchange information even though they may not be aware of each other.

Over the past ten years or so, many of the world’s most influential software companies have promoted XML as the next step in the Web’s evolution and thus it has changed the way that software is written, used and sold. This advocacy for XML, which is an open format, means that it can now be read by many applications. In addition to this, many applications now have the ability to output XML, for example Microsoft Office. Also, modern browsers, like Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari, can now work with XML data.

In his book, ‘XML HANDBOOK’, Charles F. Goldfarb states that ‘XML is all about information interchange.  It is a framework for any project that involves moving information from place to place, or between different software products and platforms.’

The XML design allows us to produce documents that can be easily described, created, manipulated, and displayed over the Internet.

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