Cover by Joe Fawcett, Liam R.E. Quin, Danny Ayers

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Chapter 1

What Is XML?

WHAT YOU’LL WILL LEARN IN THIS CHAPTER:

  • The story before XML
  • How XML arrived
  • The basic format of an XML document
  • Areas where XML is useful
  • A brief introduction to the technologies surrounding, and associated with, XML

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language (presumably the original authors thought that sounded more exciting than EML) and its development and usage have followed a common path in the software and IT world. It started out more than ten years ago and was originally used by very few; later it caught the public eye and began to pervade the world of data exchange. Subsequently, the tools available to process and manage XML became more sophisticated, to such an extent that many people began to use it without being really aware of its existence. Lately there has been a bit of a backlash in certain quarters over its perceived failings and weak points, which has led to various proposed alternatives and improvements. Nevertheless, XML now has a permanent place in IT systems and it’s hard to imagine any non-trivial application that doesn’t use XML for either its configuration or data to some degree. For this reason it’s essential that modern software developers have a thorough understanding of its principles, what it is capable of, and how to use it to their best advantage. This book can give the reader all those things.

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