XML is a markup language for documents containing structured information, A markup language is a mechanism to identify structures in a document, The XML specification defines a standard way to add markup to documents.
XML is a markup language for documents containing structured information.
Structured information contains both content (words, pictures, etc.) and some indication of what role that content plays (for example, content in a section heading has a different meaning from content in a footnote, which means something different than content in a figure caption or content in a database table, etc.). Almost all documents have some structure.
A markup language is a mechanism to identify structures in a document. The XML specification defines a standard way to add markup to documents.
No. In HTML, both the tag semantics and the tag set are fixed. The W3C, in conjunction with browser vendors and the WWW community, is constantly working to extend the definition of HTML to allow new tags to keep pace with changing technology and to bring variations in presentation (stylesheets) to the Web. However, these changes are always rigidly confined by what the browser vendors have implemented and by the fact that backward compatibility is paramount. In addition, for people who want to disseminate information widely, features supported by only the latest releases of Netscape and Internet Explorer are not useful.
XML specifies neither semantics nor a tag set. In fact XML, is really a meta-language for describing markup languages. In other words, XML provides a facility to define tags and the structural relationships between them. Since there's no predefined tag set, there can't be any preconceived semantics. All of the semantics of an XML document will be defined either by the applications that process them or by stylesheets.
No. Well, yes, sort of. XML is defined as an application profile of SGML. SGML is the Standard Generalized Markup Language defined by ISO 8879. SGML has been the standard, vendor-independent way to maintain repositories of structured documentation for more than a decade, but it is not well suited to serving documents over the web (for a number of technical reasons beyond the scope of this article). Defining XML as an application profile of SGML means that any fully conformant SGML system will be able to read XML documents. However, using and understanding XML documents does not require a system that is capable of understanding the full generality of SGML. XML is, roughly speaking, a restricted form of SGML.
For technical purists, it's important to note that there may also be subtle differences between documents as understood by XML systems and those same documents as understood by SGML systems. In particular, treatment of white space immediately adjacent to tags may be different.
In order to appreciate XML, it is important to understand why it was created. XML was created so that richly structured documents could be used over the web. The only viable alternatives, HTML and SGML, are not practical for this purpose.
HTML, as we've already discussed, comes bound with a set of semantics and does not provide arbitrary structure.
SGML provides arbitrary structure, but is too difficult to implement just for a web browser. Full SGML systems solve large, complex problems that justify their expense. Viewing structured documents sent over the web rarely carries such justification.
This is not to say that XML can be expected to completely replace SGML. While XML is being designed to deliver structured content over the web, some of the very features it lacks to make this practical, make SGML a more satisfactory solution for the creation and long-time storage of complex documents. In many organizations, filtering SGML to XML will be the standard procedure for web delivery.
XML is defined by a number of related specifications:
As time goes on, additional requirements will be addressed by other specifications. Currently (Sep, 1998), namespaces (dealing with tags from multiple tag sets), a query language (finding out what's in a document or a collection of documents), and a schema language (describing the relationships between tags, DTDs in XML) are all being actively pursued.Read more