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dotcomma: Perl XML Tutorial

Jan 23, 2000, 23:31 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dave Finton)

"Back when the World Wide Web made its debut in a big way several years ago, HTML was king. HTML is mostly a generic documenting format and is designed for more or less one purpose: to be displayed in a web browser. As time passed however, many web developers realized that HTML had some serious design issues. It wasn't very flexible, and new features were added to the standard by the World Wide Web Consortium at a snail's pace. This meant that if you wanted your web page to do such-and-such or so-and-so and that particular feature wasn't already included in the HTML specifications, you were largely out of luck until a faceless committee somewhere decided that that feature was important enough to add to the standards. And even if they liked a particular feature, it could take months or years for it to get included."

"It didn't take long for someone to get the bright idea to create an even more generic document formatting system loosely based on HTML syntax. XML was that bright idea. XML, unlike HTML, wasn't designed with a particular application in mind, such as a web browser. It's a generic document model. For example, in HTML <P> means "start new paragraph", but in XML it can mean anything. You could make <P> mean "start new paragraph", "start new page", or even "open a network connection with an internet database and download information pertaining to potato crop production in August, 1998 in the state of Idaho". The flexibility of XML is restricted only by your ability to code in an XML-capable programming language and by your imagination."

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