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How XML influenced modern data exchange format


XML or Extensible Markup Language is widely used for formatting data universally so that it can be exchanged over the internet or to be published online. It is a markup language used for those documents which contains structured information. When we talk of structured information we mean contents like words or pictures and the role theses contents play in a whole document. We often notice that content in the beginning may mean introduction to the subject. The content in the end could be the conclusion. The content for a picture could be a caption. These structures make up a document. The markup language is the equipment which will recognize the structure in a document. The XML specifications put forward a standard way by which markup could be added to the documents.

 

XML was created so that it becomes easy to use richly structured documents on the internet. The alternative to XML is HTML and SGML which are not very effective as far are structured document is concerned. A set of semantics bind HTML and arbitrary structures are not provided by it. While SGML does provide arbitrary structure but web browsers find it too difficult to handle. SGML can carry out vast complicated problems but simple identification of structure requires too much effort which can be avoided by using XML.

 

While discussing the role of XML in data exchange format it is important to mention that XML is not a replacement for either SGML or HTML. XML is a subset of SGML. HTML was precisely designed to show how a data looks while it is displayed visually. It is actually displays information. XML, on the other hand, was developed to store data as well as transport it with stress on the type of the data. Instead of displaying information XML carries information.

 

Function of XML is not to do anything but simply transport information along with structuring and storing it. It uses tags which are created by the writer of the XML document and is not pre-defined like HTML. Given below is an example of XML structured content where a message is sent from A to B:

 

<message>

<to>B</to>

<from>A</from>

<body>Kindly go through the document</body>

</message>

 

This example makes it clear about the structure of the message. XML employs to use such simple structure for all its documents which makes it easy for its reader to decipher the text. That is why it is such a popular tool for data exchange. With XML you have to invent your own tags. The tags like <to> or <from> are not any standard tag and have been put there by the writer of the message.

 

Any user can put his/her tag specific to the document that is being created such as “address”, “educational qualification”, “experience” while preparing Resume type of document which then can be exchanged as a XML document. There are some XML tags that are applied to all documents and there are other tags which are required to file definitions in documents.

 

When it comes to data exchange format, XML is especially useful in many professional fields, such as meteorology or share market or real estate to name a few. For example, a meteorologist can exchange weather data by using his/her own tags like <humidity>, <temperature>, <rainfall> etc. These tags can be filed in corresponding templates. Such web pages could directly be processed by XML compatible applications. That is how the weather data could be automatically evaluated through the web. This process makes it unnecessary to agree upon a syntax resembling Document Type Definition (DTD) by the user group.

 

The flexibility in the use of XML makes it so popular in data exchange format and has made it extremely easy to format data using your own tag. Now, the transfer of data becomes easy as these tags are humanly readable and applicable in their own specific field. XML structure is being used more and more for transporting data by people from all fields in relation to prices or date information or author and many others.

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