Beginning a humble life as a simplified version of the Generalised Markup Language, the XML or Extensible Markup Language was created as a means of giving definition to the various mark-up elements of a page or file. Its main and basic functionality is to simply aid in the sharing of the structured data or in the information services such as those used in the internet. Furthermore, it can also be used as a way of encoding or even serialising data similar to that of JSON or even YAML.
Originally, the XML language was only intended to be real through semantic constraints, however much has changed over the years while at the same time much has stayed the same. Some of the constraints used to read XML includes the XHTML file sets, real simple syndication or RSS as well as Scalable Vector Graphics known as SVG files and many other languages.
The XML standard is of course freely available and open source and is even highly recommended for the use on websites by the World Wide Web Consortium. However, while it can be very helpful in any number of uses, it is very strict in the formatting of the files as when even a simple missed tag can result in the failure of the file being parsed. It has to be well formed and what this means is that every single entry has to have a beginning tag and an ending tag. However, these tags can actually vary depending on the program designed to make use of it. The Joomla CMS for example makes use of XML files for all of its plug-ins, modules, components as well as templates as a means of telling the program what is included in the zipped file.
As far back as the 1980’s the need for displaying of information dynamically, relevant to any particular file in question was needed. As a result the SGML was created and as the internet grew, the XML subset became the clear winner. The concept of metadata states that it is data about data in which case an XML file can be seen as nothing more than a hierarchal organisation of the data concerning a particular file or sets of files. It was Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems that collaborated the use of the pre-existing SGML and the internet and can be attributed to the current use of the markup language in websites today.
When originally developed and compiled, the Extensible Markup Language was handled by an eleven member group who developed it through the use of mailing lists. At the time these mailing lists were commonplace and can be heard when researching various internet technologies such as PHP and Ruby. The thought at first was that it was to be called Minimal Architecture for Generalised Markup Applications or MAGMA, however it was James Clark, one of the lead technicians who suggested calling it XML instead of MAGMA, SLIM or even MGML to name a few of the suggested names.
During a 20 week period in 1996, the development of XML unfolded and throughout the entire time, none of the collaborators even had a chance to meet each other face to face, but rather carried on through week after week of contacting each other through email and their weekly teleconferences.
Since those times, there has been the release of the second version of XML which is the most commonly used one today. However it is important to remember that both XML 1.0 and 1.1 are still in use. The XML version 1.0 is currently in its 5th edition whereas the XML version 1.1 is in its 3rd.
While there is still some ongoing discussion regarding the creation and release of XML 2.0 which has been code named XML-SW or Skunk Works, so far a consensus has been officially released and so the standards continue to be the choice between 1.0 and 1.1 in which 1.1 is considered to be far more robust.
Original Authors: Nick
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 09/02/2009