What is XML?

Description: If you want to increase your knowledge of how websites are built and maintained, it's essential to learn the meanings of some familiar terms. XML is one such term.

The term XML stands for Extensible Mark up Language, but for the majority of people who aren't web savvy, that doesn't even begin to explain what it means.

You may have heard of the concept of computer languages - that is, a way of defining how certain elements are structured on web pages, for example. Html is a language in this sense.

Now it's possible to create your own languages and tags to enable you to perform certain tasks and requirements. XML is the language that enables you to do this - it's the ?master' language, if you like.

As such XML is really the domain of more advanced web programmers. For the novice who is just starting to learn how to build their own website from scratch, there is no need to worry about learning Extensible Mark Up Language. As your knowledge increases you may find that exploring XML will be of use, but as a rule it is more suited to developers.

Perhaps the most important distinction to make between XML and other computer languages is that it doesn't actually define what specific data actually is. Html tags are very precise and are used to define how a certain piece of information will appear. For example, if you want a word to appear in bold you simply use bold tags when you are creating that web page.

XML is more like a vehicle. It is responsible for transporting data rather than indicating what it looks like. Here's a good analogy to help you understand the distinction - imagine your website is a bus that has to get from A to B. You want that bus to be red. Html lets you choose and display that color, while XML helps it make the journey.

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