An XML parser is the component that deciphers the XML code. Without a parser, your code cannot be understood. Computers require instruction. An XML parser provides vital information to the program on how to read the file. Parsers come in multiple formats and styles. They can be free-standing software, libraries, modules and classes.
Where Do I Find a Parser?
Most of the time, you won’t need to find a parser. Modern day browsers have built-in XML parsers. When you open Firefox or Internet Explorer, the program supplies the parser for you. This is true for development platforms as well, such as Java or Delphi. Unless you are building your own software, there is no need to worry about finding an XML parser.
How Does a Parser Work?
Parsers can be a bit complex. The goal is to transform XML into a readable code. Computer hardware only knows one language. It is the software that turns all the different languages into a workable format. Software is smart, but computers by themselves are ignorant. When presented with a bunch of XML code, computer hardware has no clue what it means. Parsers convert that code into something the hardware will recognize.
What are Validating XML Parsers?
Parsers come in two flavors, ones that validate and ones that don’t. When you write XML code, you need to follow the rules. This means root elements, nesting and a declaration statement. A non-validating parser will give the code a quick check to make sure you have all the basics. A validating parser looks deeper. Parsers that validate compare a set of specific rules for each XML file, such as a DTD or schema. With these rules in hand, it goes through the XML and make decisions about default values and validates data types.
What are Standalone XML Parsers?
This is a parser that works outside of any other program. Standalone parsers are exactly what they sound like; separate packages that only parse XML. More often than not, you will find little need for a standalone parser. They may come in handy if you need to parse code locally, or without an editor or server package. Programmers that design software look for standalone parsers to view their code. Beyond that, they serve little purpose because most editing software will have a parser built-in.