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Appendixes > Learning XML Basics

Learning XML Basics

Although the name XML, for Extensible Markup Language, sounds a bit cryptic, it 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.

You may not realize it, but you already have plenty of experience in organizing information. Consider, for example, the following. If you wanted to write a letter to a friend, you would structure your thoughts (information) in a format you know your friend would recognize. Thus, you would begin by writing words on a piece of paper, starting probably somewhere near the upper-left corner, breaking your thoughts into paragraphs, sentences, and words. You could, of course, use images to convey your thoughts, or write your words in circular fashion, but that would most likely just confuse your friend. By writing your letter in a format your friend is accustomed to, 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. When you want to write a different kind of letter—say, a complaint to a neighbor for her dog's behavior on your newly seeded lawn—you can use the same proven-successful format to get a very different message across.


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