XML (Extensible Markup Language)

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). Originally designed to meet the challenges of large-scale electronic publishing, XML is also playing an increasingly important role in the exchange of a wide variety of data on the Web. It is a W3C recommendation for creating special-purpose markup languages. It is a simplified subset of SGML, capable of describing many different kinds of data. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of structured text and information across the Internet. Languages based on XML (for example, XHTMLRDFSMILMathMLSVGXSIL and XSLT) are themselves described in a formal way, allowing programs to modify and validate documents in these languages without prior knowledge of their form. See also the Wikipedia Entry.

Some XML benefits in brief:

  • Enables internationalized media-independent electronic publishing
  • Saves businesses money by enabling the use of inexpensive off-the-shelf tools to process data
  • Saves training and development costs by having a single format for a wide range of uses
  • Increases reliability, because user agents can automate more processing of documents they receive
  • Provides the underpinnings of the Semantic Web, enabling a whole new level of interoperability and information interchange
  • Encourages industries to define platform-independent protocols for the exchange of data, including electronic commerce
  • Allows people to display information the way they want it, under style sheet control
  • Enables long-term reuse of data, with no lock-in to proprietary tools or undocumented formats


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