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Chapter 1. Introducing XML

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a meta-markup language, meaning that the language, as specified by the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) XML 1.0 specification, enables users to define their own markup languages to describe and encapsulate data into XML files. These files can then be transformed into HTML (as well as into any other markup language) and displayed within browsers such as Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, exchanged across the Internet between applications and businesses, or stored in and retrieved from databases. The power of XML comes from its simplicity, its being part of an open standard, and the incorporation of user-defined markup tags that lend semantics to the embedded data.

XML’s origins come from the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML)—ratified by the International Standards Organization (ISO) in 1986—on which Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), created in 1990, is based. While SGML is still a widely used standard in the document world, and HTML is still widely used as the basis of millions of web pages on the World Wide Web, XML is rapidly gaining widespread acceptance because of its advantages in data exchange, storage, and description over the existing markup languages. Since the publication of its v1.0 specifications by the W3C in February 1998, XML has been widely seen as the language and data interchange of choice for e-commerce.


  

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