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  XML - from A to Z
  
(all you ever wanted to know about XML)
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XML - What it is?

Introduction

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a W3C-recommended general-purpose markup language that supports a wide variety of applications. XML languages or 'dialects' may be designed by anyone and may be processed by conforming software.

XML is also designed to be reasonably human-legible, and to this end, terseness was not considered essential in its structure. XML is a simplified subset of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML). Its primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of data across different information systems, particularly systems connected via the Internet.

Formally defined languages based on XML (such as RSS, MathML, GraphML, XHTML, Scalable Vector Graphics, MusicXML and thousands of other examples) allow diverse software to reliably understand information formatted and passed in these languages.

XML is a standard, simple, self-describing way of encoding both text and data so that content can be processed with relatively little human intervention and exchanged acros diverse hardware, operating systems, and applications.

In brief, XML offers a widely adopted standard way of representing text and data in a format that can be processed without much human or machine intelligence. Information formated in XML can be exchanged across platforms, languages, and applications, and can be used with a wide range of development tools and utilities.

XML is similar enough to HTML in its actual format (both are closely related to the SGML markup definition language that has been an ISO standard since 1986) so that those familiar with HTML can fairly easily pick up basic XML knowledge. But there are two fundamental differences:
  - Separation of form and content -- HTML mostly consists of tags defining the appearance of text; in XML the tags generally define the structure and content of the data, with actual appearance specified by a specific application or an associated stylesheet.
  - XML is extensible -- tags can be defined by individuals or organizations for some specific application, whereas the HTML standard tagset is defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

What are the benefits?

XML delivers significant benefits to standards, platforms, and solutions that use it as their foundation:

- Proven
XML is based on the strengths of two of the most successful markup standards ever created - SMGL and HTML - and is in active use at thousands of enterprises throughout the world.

- Versatile
XML can be used for everything from scientific data to visual and aubible user interfaces. Furthermore, it works with any programming language and operating system.

- Powerful
In addition to its native strengths, XML leverages the power of IP and web technologies. These technologies enable rapid, reliable, scalable deployment of any XML based solution.

- Extensible
XML based solutions can easily be extended and enhanced by vendors, customers, or 3rd parties - delivering the value of both standards-based and cutting-edge features.

- Ubiquity
XML tools, libraries, products, platforms, and solutions are widely available and are probably already known by your developers and IT staff. This ubiquity saves time and money.

Summary

XML is an etremely powerful and pervasive solution for any structured enterprise content or information requirement.

When used as the foundation of telephony application platforms such as Voxeo's own VoiceCenter VoiceXML and CCXML platforms, XML brings these valuable benefits to any telephony project. This combination can significantly reduce the time, expense, and complexity enterprises face when creating telephony solutions.