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What Is XML?

XML (and its parent SGML) is an open, international standard that has been under development for a number of years. Originally envisioned as a language for describing traditional documents and facilitating their conversion between different media (for example, a printed manual and an online help system), XML has proved to be invaluable for a huge variety of tasks where information must be described and shared between different applications. Today XML is being used in applications that vary from bank and stock transaction processing, to Web pages, and of course to document processing. XML has reached a level of maturity that enables its use in “mainstream” businesses, and it is starting to assume a prominent role in the processing of business documents.

What distinguishes XML documents from other types of documents is that the document is marked up to reflect the structure and semantics of the content. The way the document is presented to the user is handled separately through the Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL). (XSL Transformations, which are also called style sheets or transforms, are discussed more later in this hour.)


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