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Need an introduction to XML? Learn what XML is all about and discover how XML differs from HTML. Explore XML syntax rules, learn how to write well-formed XML documents, adjust XML attributes, validate XML documents, and more. - ?
Extensible Markup Language

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Introduction to XML

by Jan Egil Refsnes

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What you should already know

Before you continue you should have some basic understanding of the following:

  • WWW, HTML and the basics of building Web pages
  • Web scripting languages like JavaScript and VBScript

If you want to study these subjects, Go To W3Schools


What is XML?

  • XML stands for EXtensible Markup Language
  • XML is a markup language much like HTML.
  • XML was designed to describe data.
  • XML tags are not predefined in XML. You must define your own tags.
  • XML is self describing.
  • XML uses a DTD (Document Type Definition) to formally describe the data.

The main difference between XML and HTML

XML is not a replacement for HTML.
XML and HTML were designed with different goals:

XML was designed to describe data and to focus on what data is.
HTML was designed to display data and to focus on how data looks.

HTML is about displaying information, XML is about describing information.


XML is extensible

The tags used to markup HTML documents and the structure of HTML documents are predefined. The author of HTML documents can only use tags that are defined in the HTML standard.

XML allows the author to define his own tags and his own document structure.


XML is a complement to HTML

It is important to understand that XML is not a replacement for HTML. In the future development of the Web it is most likely that XML will be used to structure and describe the Web data, while HTML will be used to format and display the same data.


XML in future Web development

We have been participating in XML development since its creation. It has been amazing to see how quickly the XML standard has been developed, and how quickly a large number of software vendors have adopted the standard.

We strongly believe that XML will be as important to the future of the Web as HTML has been to the foundation of the Web. XML is the future for all data transmission and data manipulation over the Web.


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