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Thread: What is XML?

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  1. #1
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    I was curious to what XML is and what is so special about it?
    Fiber
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    SitePoint Wizard
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    As I understand it, eXtensible Markup Language is one of the next-generation web langages. It bypasses most of the restrictions of HTML - its main feature is that it allows you to define your own tags. You can even use it like a database.
    For example, if you ran a bookstore, your page might look a little like this:
    Code:
    <Book>
    <BookID>1</BookID>
    <BookTitle>title</BookTitle>
    <BookAuthor>James</BookAuthor>
    
    etc
    You will have defined those tags in a "DTD" previously.
    A simplified version of XML has been made into XHTML, or HTML 5 - XML is pretty complicated so XHTML is meant to be a version anyone can use.

    I don't really know much else - but I'd like to learn more

    Hope that helps

  3. #3
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    If you wait long enough I am currently writing a tutorial on XML!

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    SitePoint Wizard creole's Avatar
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    make it good Nicky as a lot of SitePointers (like me) will be reading it.

    in the meantine folks, Webmonkey has a really good tutorial on XML right here:

    http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/...l?tw=authoring

    and here:

    http://hotwired.lycos.com/webmonkey/...l?tw=authoring

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    SitePoint Wizard
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    I'll definitely be reading that Nicky - when should it be ready?


  6. #6
    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    I have written an overview and it is getting bigger and bigger everytime, so it might actually turn into a series. I am hoping to send int eh first draft before Christmas and hopefully the whole thing will be finished in the New Year.

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    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    For those of you that would like to get a head start, earlier this year I made a similar post with helpful information on XML, at another Board. Good links and Free programs to get going with.

    I would urge everyone to at least start looking at XHTML as XML will become the main coding language of the future. We will probably see one more version of HTML, then it will become outdated and passe. The real beauty of XML is that if the code is not done correctly, the page doesn't show. What can be more simplier than that! No more having to worry about Browser specific code and suppossed Standards, that work one way in one Browser and a different way in a different Browser.

    XHMTL is the inbetween of HTML & XML and allows us learning to walk, before we run. It is similar to HTML but the syntax is definately different. XHTML allows us to get the hang of understanding why things have to be done in certain way for XML, without coding in pure XML - which is very confusing when first learning, like most things I guess.

  8. #8
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    xHTML is the W3C's next recommendation for HTML 5 basically.

    Wheras HTML was based of SGML xHTML is HTML rewritten as an XML application.

    What this means for an average webmaster is just a few simple syntax changes.

    No more capital letters in tags such as <BR> You must close all tags such as <br /> and everything must be properly nested.

    <html><head></head><body></body></html> etc

    you can start coding in xHTML now because it is completely backwards compatible.

    Because xHTML is based off XML you will be able to do things like make your own tags, but you don't need to.

    The reasons behind changing HTML to xHTML is so that it is easier to develop browsers that will work across devices by letting them be smaller (clearner more strict coding = browser doesn't need to do as much work)

    Chris

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    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    I can see Chris, that although you agree with me in spirit about XHMTL, you must not have worked much with it yourself.

    Anybody coding in XHTML knows for example:

    no more inline or embedded JS code - must now be linked
    (i.e. <script type="text/javascript" language="JavaScript" src="thescriptcode.js"></script> )

    all tags must be closed - this includes <p> <li> <dl> <dd> etc.

    a lot of links must be closed as: <br /> (and yes there is a space before the / forward slash)
    this includes all tags within the <head> </head> tags like: <meta name="Description" content="whatever" />
    other tags such as: <hr /> <input type="radio" checked="checked" /> <img src="whatever.gif" />

    and lots of other ins & outs.

    To say: "this means for an average webmaster is just a few simple syntax changes" is a bit of a misnomer and misleading to people just learning. People that create Web pages are not considered a "Webmaster" as most Webmasters don't know a whole lot about creating Web pages. Their job is to keep the Server running properly, not make Web pages. The term "Sitemaster" would be more appropriate.

    As for most "Sitemasters" even just learning (and getting used to) all HTML code to be in "small" letters, is going to take awhile for some. Things like:
    method="post" - I used to always use "Post" which is incorrect
    putting quotes around "all" percentages and "all" tag attributes will also be quite new to some

    I would have to say that for some (maybe a lot) learning XHTML will be like learning a whole new language, and they should treat it as such. Although it should go faster for them as depending upon their coding habits, they should know/understand, the basics.

    I agree that a lot of the differences are in the "syntax area" but people need to know that although XHTML is referred to as "A Reformulation of HTML 4 in XML 1.0" it does come with it's own Doctype, Syntax and Rules as described in XHTML v1.0. And let's not forget people that have been using "Browser specific code", or WYSIWYG Editors, they are in for a real surprize.

  10. #10
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    I just finished a week of CIW Foundations. We touched a bit on XML, which is mostly used for B2B (e.g., banks, e-commerce sites). What makes XML unique is that it allows developers to create their own custom mark-up language. As was mentioned in prior posts, XML is much more rigid in syntax than HTML and harder to learn.

    Although there seems to be an urgency for us to incorporate XML on our Web sites ASAP, according to my instructor, it will be several years before XML is the norm.

    For more information, visit http://www.w3.org/XML

    Hope this helps.
    Joanne Glasspoole
    www.glasspoole.com

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    Don't get too close, I bite! Nicky's Avatar
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    I agree. I think XML is the wave of the future, used in conjunction with other technologies such as xHTML. However, I do think that it will be a while before it is welcomed with open arms by the web development community of amateur website creators. The main problem, as highlighted above, is the fact that it is more of a "programming" rather than a markup language, and hence there is a lot mroe work involved in creating a page. But it will be a liberation fo a lot of poeple, as this will allow us to separate content from structure from design.

    I will speak more later - gotta go now!

  12. #12
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Website Rob

    To say: "this means for an average webmaster is just a few simple syntax changes" is a bit of a misnomer and misleading to people just learning. People that create Web pages are not considered a "Webmaster" as most Webmasters don't know a whole lot about creating Web pages. Their job is to keep the Server running properly, not make Web pages. The term "Sitemaster" would be more appropriate.
    I would like to point out that everything I said I got from the w3c official docs. I actually had to write up a summary of xhtml for someone oh 2 days ago and spent alot of time reading.

    And while I'm sure you love making up new words, don't do it, it makes you look pretentious. A webmaster is someone in charge of a website. A Network Administrator is someone in charge of a server. A Sitemaster is something you just invented.

    Chris

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    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    Good for you Chris, on keeping up with what the W3C is doing. As for what I said above about XHTML, the fact that it is all true is beside the point. I use it to code pages everyday and I am very familiar with it. Please let me know if you would like to discuss anything specific you've learned from your reading.

    As for the rest, it depends on how long you've been around the net I guess. Some of us still remember what a "Webmaster" used to do and I guess in some ways, the definition is changing.

    I will admit that I have a problem with people that use a program like FrontPage, create a couple of Web pages, then think they can call themselves a "Webmaster." That's like someone getting their beginner's Driver's License - then saying they are a race car driver. Same thing - only different.

    In fact you can check some of the more popular "definition" lists on the Net, and you will not always find the term "Webmaster" even listed. The word "Sitemaster" has been around for the last couple of years, but I guess if someone hasn't heard a word before, it puts some doubt upon whether it exists.

    We all learn lots of new words every day, especially when comes to anything Internet related. Care to take a guess at how old the word "Email" is? Or is it E-mail, or e-mail?

    In fact my next Newsletter will be featuring a guest article on the very topic of what (according to mainstream) is the correct spelling & pronunciation of the more familiar Internet words. Here for example are a two links that mention the subject:

    http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,39450,00.html
    http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/
    You also might have a look at the definiton of "Webmaster" according to geek.com. Seems to be a place that should know about the word, don't you think?*

  14. #14
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Fact 1.

    My definition of webmaster in above post: Someone in charge of running a website

    Geek.com's definition of a webmaster: This is a blanket term that refers to the person responsible for running a website.

    Fact 2.

    Geek.com's definition of "Sitemaster": Non-existant

    Number of people to use such word on these forums other than Website Rob: 0.

    Fact 3. Quotes from Website Rob:

    People that create Web pages are not considered a "Webmaster" as most Webmasters don't know a whole lot about creating Web pages. Their job is to keep the Server running properly, not make Web pages. The term "Sitemaster" would be more appropriate.
    In fact you can check some of the more popular "definition" lists on the Net, and you will not always find the term "Webmaster" even listed. The word "Sitemaster" has been around for the last couple of years, but I guess if someone hasn't heard a word before, it puts some doubt upon whether it exists.
    Seriously, being condescending and pretentious on these forums just makes you look foolish.
    So Stop.

    Chris

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    Pardon me for interupting here, but could someone tell me if XHTML ( not XML; XHTML ) is any faster than HTML?

    Thanks in advance.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    Geek.com definition of a "Webmaster" is:
    Webmaster - This is a blanket term that refers to the person responsible for
    running a website. It is associated more with server management and HTML
    coding than other Web development, such as CGI scripting.

    Tis only one site's definition of the term and even though I don't totally agree with it, it is more than just my opinion. I had hoped you might offer something more constructive, than just your opinions, as people reading this need information they can use and rely on.

    Getting back to the topic of this thread, XHTML is not neccessarily any faster than any other properly written code. By "properly" I refer to the accepted Standard (as per W3C for HTML) but even that term must be used loosely.

    It is unfortunate that currently, there are no Browsers available that follow all the Standards. This is more due to the language itself (HTML) as it was not designed for what is required/desired, of Web sites today. Just one of the many reasons why it will be phased out. The majority of people now use a version 4.x or higher Browser, because they can do more than previous versions. Although HTML has also gone through version revisions, it has pretty much reached the limit of what it can do.

  17. #17
    midnight coder
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    XHTML is not really faster, but if you code it properly, and run your page through w3c's validator, your site will be a lot more compatible.

    You can also code your page in XHTML, and when XML does start to hit the web in a large scale, it'll be easier to recode your page from XHTML to XML.

  18. #18
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    Thanks Robo, that's what I had thought.

    Now, can anyone direct me to some decent XML/XHTML sites? Excluding the W3 Consortium website...

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  20. #20
    AdSpeed.com Son Nguyen's Avatar
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    After reading your posts, I think I have to catch the wave of the future! Do you ever think we could stop learning?
    I like the idea that XML is more like a programming language. Run or Debug! That's much better than unexpected/weird behaviour based on browser.
    However, XML is server-side or client-side? Anyway, I'll dig into it more later on. Thanks for all the resource links.
    - Son Nguyen
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  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Whoa whoa whoa, closing tags will look like this?:


    <html>
    <head>
    <title>This is the Title<title />
    <head />

    <body>
    Text
    <body />
    <html />


    Please tell me this is not the case - what is the value in this?

    As for the other changes: I'm quite lucky. I always write my HTML in all lowercase, and I basically alows place quotations are attributes in tags - I guess I'm fortunate to have learned that way.

  22. #22
    SitePoint Zealot Website Rob's Avatar
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    That's part of the point of XHTML, some of the tags end as we're used to, some end with the /> and it's a memory thing to know which don't a which do. First of course, one has to learn the ones that do which is why all of the links listed in this thread, will be useful to check out.

    A good DOCTYPE to get started with (as per W3C) is:
    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">
    <html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en">

    and unless your HTML Validator has the ability to parse XHTML, here are two good places to Bookmark, for online checking:

    HTML Validation Service : http://validator.w3.org/
    for those who like it straight from the source

    WDG HTML Validator : http://www.htmlhelp.com/tools/validator/
    which is slightly better than the W3C Validator by not only pointing out the exact same errors, but also gives you links to figuring out how to fix them.

    Although they both are listed as "HTML Validators" they will both check XHTML as well, according to the DOCTYPE.




  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Has any indication been given as to why some tags will close differently from the way we're used to closing them? I, as of right now, don't see a point in it.

  24. #24
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    Originally posted by TWTCommish
    Whoa whoa whoa, closing tags will look like this?:


    <html>
    <head>
    <title>This is the Title<title />
    <head />

    <body>
    Text
    <body />
    <html />


    Please tell me this is not the case - what is the value in this?

    As for the other changes: I'm quite lucky. I always write my HTML in all lowercase, and I basically alows place quotations are attributes in tags - I guess I'm fortunate to have learned that way.
    The only tags which will have the /> at the end are those tags which right now have no closing tag (<br>,<img>, etc). The tags which have closing tags right now will continue to do so. The other option you have is to add a closing tag (ie <br></br> ), though I believe this might cause more problems, but I could be mistaken about this.
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  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    Glad to hear it, what a relief! Although I'm still not sure what the point is! Can someone enlighten me?


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