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Originally, in the early days of the Worldwide Web, the invention of HTML (Hypertext Markup language) as a standard was a major step towards information creation, sharing and rendering, by applications that were created to feed on or generate such information. At that time, HTML covered a very wide spectrum, used for specifying content, structure, formatting and rendering of data. Naturally, web developers needed to learn html and had their hands full all the time.
Then a new standard for organizing information emerged: the Extensible Markup Language (XML.) The intention was to allow the content of a web page to be organized separately from the other tasks listed above. Other standards have also evolved for these other spheres, and now HTML is mostly used for information structuring. XML deals with content management and organization.
This is the history and context of the emergence of XML as a universally accepted standard. XML is not limited to the web alone: almost every modern application including system software, telecommunication applications or web applications uses XML to organize information in some way. Note that organization of data converts it into information. Application developers quickly saw this difference, and adopted XML whole-heartedly. This course will emphasize how XML meets our everyday professional needs.
Now, let’s move onto a description of the XML language. The advantages of this language are:
• Organizes data to convert it to information (this is true value addition)
• It is accessible: being a free published web standard, it is universally accepted
• Allows programmers and other professionals who need information, an easy way to structure data
• Is used almost universally to organize configuration data for programs and software build systems mainly elements that should be controllable/accessible without recompiling an application.
• Is portable, being an independent standard, therefore can be used across applications and platforms as well – truly “cross-platform!”
• Cross-language as well: the languages simply need to have XML parser APIs that can be invoked by programs on XML documents
Most web applications in the modern internet age such as RSS are based on XML. Several standard protocols in areas such as networking protocols, telecommunication protocols, and most open source software and libraries are dependent on XML standards to interface with client programs. This is one main reason why taking this course, a beginner’s guide to one of the most powerful components of the internet, is worth its weight in gold!
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