Benefits of Using XML - By: Jamie Simpson

XML is a general-purpose markup language that has become the industry-standard means of organizing data to be transmitted across the Internet.

XML is completely textual and non-binary. It consists of text data organized hierarchically with opening and closing tags which delineate particular portions of the data. These tags can be nested and can contain additional information called attributes.

Here is a simple example of XML:

<employee ID="E99>

This example shows how employee information might be organized. Tags are delineated by "" pairs. A closing tag is prefixed with "/". The "ID=" in is an attribute. You can see how many nodes could be contained in the node, and how more information could be embedded in the same fashion.

There are many benefits to using XML for both transmission and storage of data. First, as stated, it is an industry standard. XML is recognized at the primary way to programmatically share data on the Internet and is recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

XML is simple and self-describing, and therefore readable by people. Because of the logical tag construct, XML can be parsed and read by computers. But because it is readable by people, even an untrained person can understand the information in a XML document. XML editor programs facilitate the design and editing of the markup.

XML is straightforward and easy to use. It is easy to parse, process and exchange. XML simplicity makes it adaptable and flexible. Its industry acceptance makes it expected. Its logical, no-nonsense design makes it easy to automate its processing. Since XML is text, there are no esoteric binary codes which need to be known by disparate systems.

Unlike HTML, XML construct rules always require a closing tag, or at least a self-closing opening tag. This makes designing XML parsers much simpler than designing HTML parsers. In fact, HTML rules are being gradually redefined to mirror the consistency of XML rules.

XML is extensible. An XML file is essentially a simple database. Any type of XML data format can be designed, as long as it follows XML construct rules. XML can be used to define and contain just about any kind of data.

XML can be the basis of special-purpose languages. Many languages based on XML have been developed, including Simple Object Access Protocol and Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).

As a means of general-purpose, standardized data transmission, XML shines. However, XML also works well as a means to store information for computer applications. Although not comparable to a true database management system, XML works well for storage of smaller more finite collections of data. Layouts of menus, preference information, schema, dictionaries and logs are some examples of XML storage uses.

XML's ease, simplicity, readability, flexibility and global acceptance make it a good choice for the storage of data and the transmission of data across the Internet.

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