The Beauty of XML




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Extensible Markup Language

XML is a markup language that builds web pages. XML looks like HTML however it is designed to store, carry and exchange data. It is not designed to display data, which is the purpose of HTML. You can write XML in wordpad, notepad or any text application that supports XML, these applications are free. Unlike HTML, XML tags are case sensitive. XML is both human- and machine-readable.

What XML means:

Extensible: You can derive other languages out of XML, a program or programming language that is designed so that users and developers can expand or add to its capabilities.

Mark Up: The sequence of characters of symbols that can be inserted in certain places in a text file to indicate how a file should look (<, >, ^, /, ? etc)

The many benefits of XML:

  • It overcomes the inflexibility of html, allowing you to do more. (Html is defined by tags and that’s it, you can’t do any more.)
  • It uses ‘words’ which you can create and design yourself, offering bespoke solutions.
  • It can be viewed on multiple software devices.
  • It has longevity meaning that what you create will last within the ever-changing eco-system of the internet.
  • It is verifiable, persistent, sharable and a standard across multiple platforms.
  • It makes your data more useful and meaningful.

An example of why you would you use XML:

If you want to organize 500 books (or any kind of data) you can store the data through XML and present it through html. You can then use the data for searching, reference or to edit the data, thus the data becomes meaningful.

Examples of sites using XML:

CELT is an example of an XML site that is used internationally. It showcases the longevity of XML as it was created twenty years ago. It is still searchable, usable and is popular globally for what it offers within its research field.

Transcribe Bentham created a basic XML code for crowd-sourcing purposes, to allow the public to assist in transcribing the Bentham manuscripts. Maynooth University took this code and used it for the letters 1916 project, which has a similar intention. Showcasing the many benefits of XML – sharable, verifiable, persistent, standard across platforms and open to adapt to create bespoke solutions.



XML documents have a header which show that it is an XML document

e.g. <?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”ISO-8859-1”?

An XML document will have one root element and a closing element. The root element encapsulates everything, the child elements allows you to structure the document.


Examples of Tags & Elements




Example of XML Document


<?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”ISO-8859-1”? Header


<contact-information>   Root element called parent element (start tag)


<name> Ciara Josephine </name> child element

<Profession> Holistic Therapy child element (start tag)

<sector> Personal Development </sector> sub child element

<address> Bridgefield Castlemartyr, Cork </address> child element

<phone> 0861614099 </phone> child element


<contact-information> (end tag)



Creative Commons License by Ciara Josephine is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at .

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