Tutorial: What is XML?

Are you interested in web design and web development? Then, You should learn XML. In this article, we will discuss several things such as: What is XML? How does it work? And, how does it differ from HTML?

What is the XML Format?

XML is a short form of Extensible Markup Language. It is one of the most popular markup languages along with HTML. It simplifies data storage and transferring between different servers.

As servers use different systems, it’s hard to transfer data without converting them into the same format, however, the conversion process itself risks data loss.

With XML, you don’t need to convert data format. It keeps data in the same structure and format even it travels to a different server. So it’s far more efficient and requires less effort.

Moreover, it is readable both by humans and machines. Meaning you can easily manage and update it. As a self-describing file, machines read your data in an exact way you do.

Because of these, World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) endorses XML.

What does XML Code Look Like?

XML uses a specific code to keep the data intact.

An XML file always constitutes by markup and content. Markup with a < and a > is used to make a start-tag and an end-tag, while a pair of & and a ; show a name entity. Specific content fills the space between those markups with plain text.

tag is a description of the content. It constitutes from a <, keyword, and a >. There are three kinds of tags: start-tagend-tag, and empty-element tag.

To make an element or a piece of content, you need a start-tag and an end-tag. Without one of them, content won’t be valid. For example:


Here is an example of the Extensible Markup Language format:

 <body>Don't forget to feed the cats!</body>

This is a book catalog in form of XML format:

<?xml version="1.0" standalone="yes"?>
<new arrival>
<title>The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of    Decluttering and Organizing</title>
   <author>Marie Kondo</author>
<description>The #1 New York Times bestseller book.</description>
</new arrival>

What is an XML File?

A plain text file with Extensible Markup Language formatting forms an XML file. It allows you to store and group certain data in a specific file.

An XML-based file usually uses an RSS feed, Android layout design, and Microsoft Office files such as .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx.

Differences Between XML and HTML

Both XML and HTML are markup languages, but they work for a different purpose. Extensible Markup Language provides data, while HTML displays it. For a better picture, we list their differences below:

xml html comparison

No Visual Representation

XML cannot display data mainly because of its user-defined tags.

The tags show specific content descriptions which are entirely up to users. As long as it comes in pair, the Extensible Markup Language is valid.

Whereas, HTML uses predefines tags. Programmers assign the tags with a specific function to show data in certain ways.

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