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By contrast, the XML file shows clearly what each piece of information represents and where it belongs in the data hierarchy.

This "data-describing data" is known as metadata, and is a great strength of XML in that you can create your own specifications and structure your data to be interpreted by any other system.

I’ve tried to keep this introduction to XML as broad as possible, so it should be of use to users of all developmental persuasions.

Where HTML was designed to display data and specify how that data should look, XML was designed to describe and structure data.

In this way, an XML file itself doesn’t actually do anything.

It doesn’t say how to display the data or what to do with data, just as a text file doesn’t.

We can see clearly that there is a catalogue containing CDs, each of which contains some tracks (music aficionados will notice that I have cut down the track listings for space! You can also see that XML can be less efficient than some other file formats.

Once you have produced your own set of elements and structures, these formats can be referred to as dialects. With so many different dialects floating around, conflicts of meaning can easily arise.This describes what is meant by "interoperable file format" — once you produce an XML file, it is open to everyone.An input, and all the information required to understand the structure of your data, is included in the file. Here’s a text file and an XML file that both store the same information: Notice how the subject of our data is defined in the XML file.While an XML file might conform to the XML specification, it might not be a valid form of a particular dialect.An XML schema lets you verify that certain elements are present, while making sure that the values presented are of the correct type.

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