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XML Basics

Although the name Extensible Markup Language (XML) sounds a bit cryptic, don't worry: the format itself is actually quite easy to understand. In a nutshell, XML provides a way of formatting and structuring information so that receiving applications can easily interpret and use that data when it's moved from place to place. Although you may not realize it, you already have plenty of experience structuring and organizing information. Consider the following example.

Suppose you want to write a letter to a friend. You structure your thoughts (information) in a format you know your friend will recognize. You begin by writing words on a piece of paper, starting in the upper-left corner, and breaking your thoughts into paragraphs, sentences, and words. You could use images to convey your thoughts, or write your words in a circle, but that probably would confuse your friend. By writing your letter in a format familiar to your friend, you can be confident that your message will be conveyed—that is, you will have transferred your thoughts (data/information) to the letter's recipient.


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