The Advantages of XML

by Wasim Ismail on March 8, 2011

Whether hardcore coding or just using website builders, when we say web development, we know it is associated with HTML (Hyper Text Mark-Up Language), Javascripts or Php Scripts. However, using XML in building a website only exists when we got other structural needs like sitemaps or feeds.

Many websites now submit XML sitemaps to Google and other search engines, to inform the search engines of what pages they have on their website.

Developers are very familiar with XML as other weaknesses of HTML are being resolved via XML. Google and other webmaster tools are reading sitemap.xml not only sitemap.html. Some feed readers are also reading rss.xml and not rss.html. Some dynamic flash presentations are also using XML files.

On the other hand, observing the areas of where XML is mostly being used, we may learn that XML works well if used with other web languages. Since XML is a text based mark up language that provides structural and semantic data, it is normally just being called for display.

There are several reasons why despite XML needs a processor, it still has a big contribution in web development. See some advantages below:

  1. You are the author of your mark up language. This is probably the most powerful attribute of XML. Unlike HTML, with XML, you are the one creating your own set of tags

    Example:
    <CUSTOMER>
    <NAME>Juan Santos</NAME>
    <ORDERNO>20115</ ORDERNO >
    <PRODUCT>Paper</ PRODUCT >
    <CURRENCY>USD</ CURRENCY >
    <PRICE>50</ PRICE >
    </ CUSTOMER >
     

  2. Text Based. XML is in plain text and very portable in coding. Any text editors even notepad will do.
     
  3. GUI is extracted in XML. With HTML, GUI is embedded. This means that when you need to update a table based list of information, you need to recode your HTML. This is vice versa with XML. Observing mostly from dynamic flash presentations, you do not need to recode everything. Just a few touches in your scripts or few modifications in your XML, and you are able to update your whole presentation.
     
  4. Data relations. Data relationships and structures are somehow important in information query. For HTML, without database storage and scripts calling, creating a table and list of information will not determine the relation of one row of data to the other displayed row of data. Even complex set of information can be communicated.
     
  5. Standard compliance. XML complied with the web standards, which mean it gives the browser requirements. It also supports Unicode coding which allows almost any information in human readable format.

Recently, SVG was recommended by W3 Consortium, a pure XML graphic format. Many are predicting that SVG is the future of web graphic format; could it be that XML can also be of a great requirement and can stand alone in the future.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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