OK, so you may have heard about XML, and you may even know what it stands for, but what you need uis a realworld example. During this article I will tell you about a recent project that I worked on, and how XML was useful.
I suppose that I should introduce XML before I dive into any examples. XML stands for Extensible Markup Language and, in a way, it's a bit like HTML. But, unlike HTML that has fixed tags such as <p> and <font> with fixed attributes <font face="Arial"> XML allows you to create your own tags and attributes. In this way you can build a structered data file where the tags and attributes describe that data they contain.
A few weeks ago I was involved in a project where an existing application needed to be upgraded. The existing system worked by gathering a large amount of data, formatting and outputting it to an HTML page.
The problem was that this process took quite a long time, and only produced one HTML page. The idea was to get the program to output the raw data to a structered XML file, and then use a set of XSL files (XML style sheets) to format the data into different HTML pages. And I only had two weeks to do it in!
As you can see, I was having to learn all about XML and XSL and therefore I feel it would be good to share this knowledge.
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