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1.1. Why XML?

Extensible Markup Language (XML) defines a text-based format containing labels and structures. XML looks a lot like HTML, the primary language used by web browsers, but XML lets users and developers create their own formats rather than limiting them to a single vocabulary. The XML 1.0 specification appeared in 1998, and a wide variety of applications have added XML functionality or been built around XML since then, from databases to stock tickers to editors to web browsers to inventory systems. While XML still requires readers and writers of documents to have some shared understandings about the documents they create and interpret, it provides a basic format that is easily processed in a wide variety of different environments—it's even frequently human-readable.

If you've never worked with XML and need to know the technical details of how to read and create XML documents, you should read Appendix A of this book. This chapter provides a high-level view of what XML makes possible and why it makes sense for Office, not a detailed explanation of what XML is.



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