What is XML?

What is XML?

XML is one of the most popular programs used today and most people have no doubt heard about it!  XML has a variety of uses and can be used for Web, e-business, and portable applications. XML assists people with web publishing and is used to create interactive pages that allow customers to customize these pages and make the creation of e-commerce applications a lot more intuitive.


Learn more about XML: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeLiQXqVgMI


XML Facts:

  • XML stands for extensible Markup Language
  • XML is a Markup language very similar HTML
  • XML was designed to store and transport data
  • XML is self-descriptive


It’s all in the name: Extensible Markup Language.


Now that you have an idea as to what XML is and what it can do, lets break it down.  XML is short for Extensible Markup Language:



XML is extremely extensible.  This means that you are able to define your own tags in the order in which they occur as well as focus on how they can be processed and how they are able to be displayed.  Think of it as a way in which it can allow you to extend your notion of what a document is. It can be a file that lives on a file server or it can be a transient piece of data that is able to flow between two computer systems. An example of this is Web Service.



This is one of the most recognizable features of XML and refers to its tags and elements.  The elements that you are able to create in XML are very similar to the elements that you have been creating in your own HTML documents. The only difference is that XML allows you to define your own set of tags.



The XML language is very similar to the HTML language but is much more flexible in the way that it allows you to create your own custom tags.  XML is not just a language; it is a meta-language that allows you to create of define other languages.  When using XML you are able to create other languages such as:


  • RSS
  • MathML
  • XSLT


Learn how to create an RSS language with XML for beginners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G6stczapyk



Now that you have a basic understanding as to what XML is, lets look at why we need it in out lives.  Remember that HTML is designed to specifically describe documents for display in a web browser and that is it.  If you want to display documents in a mobile device or do anything else what is a little more complicated, then HTML is not really the program to use. Its main purpose it to allow you to create quick Web documents that can be shared with people and that is about it.


XML is used for more than just the Web and can be used for many other concepts, even those concepts that do not deal with humans interacting with content.  Furthermore XML can be used to send requests and response back and forth in a Web Service setting.


Unfortunately HTML does not provide information on how a document is structured of what it means as it is a presentation language. XML, however, is a data-description language meaning that we should be able to look at any XML document and understand instantly what is happening.  Another way to explain this would be to say that it is self-describing and can be understood right away so that we are better able to ensure that our information is correct. Least we forget that it is also readable for both humans and software!




It is a software and hardware independent tool that is used to transport and store data. Its main focus is to look at what data is. Used to display data and focus on how data looks.
Provides a framework to define markup languages. A markup language in itself.
Case sensitive. Not case sensitive.
Not a presentation or programming language. A presentation language.
Allows you to define tags according to your needs. Has its own predefined tags.
Closing tags are mandatory. Closing tags are optional.
XML is used to transport data. HTML is used to display data
Preserves whitespaces. Does not preserve whitespaces.

The Benefits of XML


  • It is Open
    XML is a W3C standard and is widely endorsed by software industry market leaders.


  • It is extensible
    There is no fixed set of tags and new tags can be created as they are needed.


  • It is self-descriptive
    Documents can be stored without [schemas] because they contain meta data. An XML tag can possess an unlimited number of attributes.


  • Machine-readable context information
    Tags, attributes and element structure provide context information and are highly efficient for use in search engines.


  • Separates the content from the presentation
    XML tags describe meaning and not presentation and can be controlled by XSL stylesheets allowing the look of a document to be changed without altering the content of the document.


  • Facilitation of the comparison and aggregation of data
    Documents to be compared and aggregated efficiently element by element.


  • Able to embed multiple data types
    XML documents have the ability to contain any possible data type.


  • Ability to embed existing data
    File systems and databases that are relational to XML are able to be mapped by using existing data structures.


  • Ability to support multilingual documents and Unicode
    This is incredibly important when it come to the internationalisation of applications


  • A one-server view for distributed data

XML is one of the most sophisticated formats for distributed data. An example of this is the World Wide Web that can be seen as one massive XML database.


  • It is Simple!!
    XML is easy to read and understand and can be processed easily by computers.



Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0k5ySZGPBc to learn more about XML.

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