Written by Patricia Skinner
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Extensible markup language, or XML, is the new markup language that seems all set to take up where HTML left off. It is a simple yet very flexible text format derived from SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). However, unlike SGML, XML does not need the presence of something called DTD (Document Type Definition), so it is a more practical application.

XML = More Control

Although it can run without DTD, XML can make thorough use of DTD if it is available, and will allow you to control data much more precisely than is now possible. For example, XML with DTD can provide much more reliable control of visitors to your web pages, and more effectively preventing access to certain unauthorized areas of your site.

XML—Flexibility and Practicality

XML is more flexible than the presently used HTML for your data management, as it offers possibilities for future development and flexibility not found with HTML. Because XML tags are based on the logical structure of the document they are much easier to understand, and therefore easier to use.

If you're thinking of adopting XML as your operational markup language, you will need to know about the different XML packages on offer. You will also need to consider training courses, or perhaps online tutorials for your staff, or yourself, to make the changeover as smooth as possible. A first step might be to obtain a copy of some software that uses XML, and to make available to your staff some books on the subject.

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