Thursday, November 18, 2004

XML - Part I

I felt like writing something on XML and so decided to write some basics concepts i have learnt on XML. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. XML is an interesting language and i enjoy working on XML- oriented languages. The only drawback with XML is you have to keep yourself updated with many related languages (XML Namespaces, XPath, XML Scehmas, etc.). Somtimes its fun learnig these languages too as they are necessary at times.

In Part-I i will try and cover few of the questions i had in mind when i started trying to learn or understand like, what is XML? How can we use XML? why go for XML?

What is XML?

As said before XML stand for eXtensible Markup Language. Well XML is something totally new to the world to the computing world. The definition on W3C says," Originally designed to meet the challenges of large scale electronic-publishing". XML as grown a long way since its intial year and it has been used in many different ways for different purposes. The current XML version we use is 1.0.

How we can use XML?

This is good question. XML can be used in multiple ways, and so it gives different views. Here are some of the ways XML is being used, XML can store data, but it is not a database. XML can serialize objects, but an XML document is not an object. Web pages can be written in XML, but XML is not HTML. Functional (and other) programming languages can be written in XML, but XML is not a programming language. Books are written in XML, but that doesn’t make XML desktop publishing software. XML is simply XML, that which can be eXtensible. XML by itself defines no boundaries, it gives us all the freedom to use it anyway we wish to.

Why go for XML?

This is another good question. For those of us who know the benefits of what Java language gives, XML too shares some of the benefits. Here are a few of the pros and cons of it.

1)It is independent of architecture, platform, operating system, and language. Well u can say XML should work on any system that supports JAVA.
2)You can define your own tags, provided u follow the formatting rules.
3)Easily extensible.
4)It can be used for a variety of purposes as mentioned before.

1)The one and only disadvantage of XML i found is lack of adequate processing applications. What i exactly mean by this is that you wrote an HTML Document, anyone, anywhere in the world could read that by opening the HTML file in any of the Web Browsers. But that is not the same with XML Documents as there are no XML browsers as of now. I guess IE version 5 + above provides displaying XML as of now, but the processing of selective XML data is still not a feature in any of the present day broswers.

In Part - II i guess i will cover the tools, API's available and describe them.

Well comments and suggestion are always welcome and feel free to contribute more on this.


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