How to understand the role of XML in website design? Technically XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. Markup languages, such as HTML or XML, are tools used to identify the varying structures in a web page. These languages tell a web browser or program: this page will not be a bunch of text. It includes instructions and information as well as the data that must appear on the page. The flexibility of XML makes it an ideal candidate to work in conjunction with other programming languages and database applications. Here are four basic reasons that XML is one tool you want in your web design toolbox.
It's all about the simplicity. XML is easy to learn because you are in control of the layout and structure of the page. Page authors develop their own element names. This means there is no limit to the number of tags one can use on an XML document.
XML can be interrupted by most browsers and data mined efficiently. Since the web designer creates all the attributes, tags and element structures, XML can have meta data and recognizable SEO tags just about anywhere.
XML is a storage container. That makes the content of the page more valuable than the look. Other markup languages, like HTML, must "appear" a certain way. They are as much about styling as they are about the message. XML concentrates on the data not the specifics of how you write the code. In other web page components, you must focus on the language as well as the data.
XML carries data. That is its purpose. Many modern day active components, such as ActiveX, Java applets or even multimedia presentations, look to XML for this information. The structure and design of XML allows these documents efficient assessment of the code piece by piece. To exist and succeed in today's web world, you must know how to write valid XML code that assists the more complex applications and designs.
Since formalization by the World Wide Web Consortium in 1998, XML has established a powerful role in website design. XML has proven its worth as a usable and beneficial tool. If you are just getting started in the world of website design, check out some of the tutorials we offer here at About.com for insight into HTML and XML.