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Part: I Houston, We Have a Problem > XML Conquers the World (And Other Web Stan...

Chapter Four. XML Conquers the World (And Other Web Standards Success Stories)

Before we go any further, it's worth countering the previous chapter's bad vibes by discussing the ways web standards have established firm footholds in and beyond the Internet. Despite the misunderstandings that stymie their adoption in some quarters, web standards are winning the day on many fronts and are rapidly changing technology, business, and publishing on and off the web.

In this chapter, we'll take a first look at the most successful web standard since HTML: Extensible Markup Language (XML). XML is an all-embracing data format that's been almost universally adopted and adapted to meet complex needs. We'll discover how XML helps software products remain viable in a rapidly changing market, solves the problems of today's data-driven businesses, and has given rise to a new generation of interoperable web applications and services.

We'll also see how web standards have facilitated détente and encouraged cooperation between arch competitors in the browser business. We'll learn how professional web authoring tools that once ignored standards have come to embrace them. And we'll see how the personal sites of forward-thinking designers and developers have fostered wider acceptance of CSS layout, XHTML markup, and conformance with Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) and Section 508 accessibility guidelines.

Each of these success stories shares a common core: Standards are gaining acceptance because they work. The more these standards are accepted, the harder and better they will work and the smoother the road will be before us all.

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