XML has long since become the lingua franca of machine-to-machine communication on the Internet. The format’s combination of human readability, standardization, and tool support has made working with XML an inevitability for programmers. Yet, writing code that deals in XML is an unpleasant chore in most programming languages. Scala improves this situation.
As with the Actor functionality we learned about in Chapter 9, Scala’s XML support is implemented partly as a library, with some built-in syntax support. It feels to the programmer like an entirely natural part of the language. Convenient operators add a spoonful of syntactic sugar to the task of diving deep into complex document structures, and pattern matching further sweetens the deal. Outputting XML is just as pleasant.
Unusual in programming languages and particularly handy, Scala allows inline XML. Most anywhere you might put a string, you can put XML. This feature makes templating and configuration a breeze, and lets us test our use of XML without so much as opening a file.
Let’s explore working with XML in Scala. First, we’ll look at reading and navigating an XML document. Finally, we’ll produce XML output programmatically and demonstrate uses for inline XML.
We’ll start with the basics: how to turn a string full of XML into a data structure we can work with: