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Chapter Four. XML Conquers the World (An... > A Mother Lode of Inventions

A Mother Lode of Inventions

The next four examples and the lessons that follow from them will suggest the depth of XML acceptance on the web and illustrate how the continual emergence of new XML-derived languages and protocols solves problems that once daunted even the brainiest developers.

Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (www.w3.org/TR/xslt)

This XML-based markup language can extract and sort XML data and format it as HTML or XHTML, ready for immediate online viewing. If you prefer, XSLT can transform your data to PDF or text or use it to drive a continuously updateable chart or similar business image rendered in the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. XSLT can even do all these things simultaneously. For a hands-on tutorial, see J. David Eisenberg's “Using XML” (www.alistapart.com/stories/usingxml/).

Resource Description Framework (www.w3.org/RDF/)

This XML-based language provides a coherent structure for applications that exchange metadata on the web. In practical terms, RDF integrates library catalogs and directories; collects and syndicates news, software, and all kinds of content; and facilitates communication and sharing between various types of collections (such as personal photo and music collections, to steal an example from the write-up on W3C's site). The power of RDF can also drive software. If you happen to have the Mozilla browser available on your desktop, open its folders and sniff around. You'll find RDF (and CSS) files that help the browser do its job. Specifically, dig around in the profile folders. Each profile has its own set of XML-based files.

Rich Site Summary (http://backend.userland.com/rss092)

Rich Site Summary (RSS) is a lightweight XML vocabulary for describing websites, originally developed by Dan Libby to populate AOL/Netscape's “My Netscape” portal. After AOL lost interest in it in April 2001, Dave Winer's UserLand Software Company carried the spec forward. Today, RSS is used by thousands of sites, making it among the most widely accepted XML formats on the web today [4.6].

4.6. The weblog, or personal periodical, at Splorp.com offers an XML RSS feed, enabling the site's content to be easily syndicated (www.splorp.com). By the way, the site claims that “Splorp is the sound of scooping lasagna.” Now you know.

XML-RPC (www.xmlrpc.com)

Another UserLand Software innovation, XML-RPC is “a spec and a set of implementations that allow software running on disparate operating systems [and] …in different environments to make procedure calls over the Internet.” Among other things, XML-RPC can be used to automate site management tasks in web publishing tools.

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