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Access 2010: The Missing Manual by Matthew MacDonald

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Access and XML

One of the hottest buzzwords in the computer world is XML (extensible markup language), an all-purpose way of exchanging information between different programs. Access supports XML with its import and export features, where XML shows up as just one more supported format. However, if you really want to understand how the Access XML features work—and whether they really add anything new—you need to dig a little deeper.

What Is XML, Really?

XML alone sounds pretty modest. People often describe it as a format for storing information. For example, instead of saving data in Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or ordinary text files, you can save data in an XML file. This simplicity is deceiving, and two factors make XML really special:

  • XML is flexible. You can tailor XML to store pretty much any type of information: pictures, product catalogs, invoice data, receipts, catalog listings, the maintenance specs for every Dodge Minivan ever built, and on and on.

  • XML is widespread. Computer applications written in different programming languages (like Java, Visual Basic, or C++), or running on different operating systems and computer hardware (like Windows, Mac, or Linux), can all use XML in exactly the same way. That quality makes XML a perfect solution for exchanging information between people, companies, and even computers that have been programmed to send data to one another automatically (it’s features like this last one that cause supply-chain management types to drool when ...

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