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Here Comes XML

HTML is a great system to publish written content on the Web, but it does little to help publish content that might actually be more than a written paragraph about a product. Wouldn't it be cool if every piece of descriptive data about a product could be easily tagged as such? For example, you could tag information about a product such as its size, weight, the address of the manufacturer, and more so that the Web browser or another Web application actually knew what this textual information really was. That's what XML enables. XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a framework to embed text information between tags that actually describes what the information really is. HTML only describes what data should look like on a Web page. XML is known as a metadata language—it is data that describes other data.

XML is important to e-commerce because entire industries are coming up with XML frameworks (sometimes known as schemas) that are used to describe useful business data within that industry. By creating applications that recognize and can act on this industry specific XML framework, you can enable even more robust stores. For example, an XML framework known as the Open Catalog Format helps companies publish catalogs of items on the Web. These catalogs, which are used mostly for business-to-business, supply procurement, use XML to describe all sorts of extra information about products listed on a page (such as what other items to crosssell with that item), or what the price is for the object so it can be translated into different currencies.


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