8 Reasons Why XML is a Versatile Data Conversion Language

8 Reasons Why XML is a Versatile Data Conversion Language
8 Reasons Why XML is a Versatile Data Conversion Language

Managing data in a way that generates useful business information has become vital for businesses. Ensuring high quality data conversion processes in place is essential for the quick transformation of information into different forms for various purposes.

XML has become very popular as a language for data conversion as the available technology has come of age to be able to match with its requirements. Today, it is one of the most widely used data conversion languages.

XML acronym stands for Extensible Markup Language and refers to a markup language used to describe data. The XML specifications define a standard way of adding markups to documents. Markups help to identify structure in the document and enable the creation of formats that can electronically share structured data through networks like internet. XML is defined by several open standards including formal XML 1.0 Specification by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).  XML code is derived from Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).

XML has been used to create hundreds of document formats including Atom, RSS, SOAP, and XHTML. XML is neither the earliest nor the only language for markup. However, XML finds a wider application due to the wide variety of features that makes it a versatile language. A few of them find mention below:

  1. Custom Definition of Tags: 

    XML is referred to as Extensible because it allows the user to define their own custom tags, their occurrence order and their display.The user can define new elements as per one’s own specific needs. On the other hand, in HTML, the tags and tag semantics are fixed.  Thus XML is actually a meta-language for markup languages providing facility to define tags and structural definitions between them.

  2. Separation of Content from Data Presentation: 

    XML allows data to be stored in separate XML files which essentially separates content from HTML/CSS used for display and layout. This control of style and presentation of content through XSL style sheets makes it possible to modify the look of a document or webpage without having any interference with the content of the document.

  3. Simpler Content Modification: 

    Storage of data in Separate XML files, simultaneously, also makes modification of content easy. While, in order to display dynamic data in HTML one needs to do extensive work each time data changes, XML allows modification of data without requiring any changes to the display HTML code. 

  4. Content Re-usability: 

    While HTML is specifically designed to process documents for display in web browser, XML enables processing data in different contexts in a simple and cost-effective way. Additional tasks like translation of web page to multiple languages (indispensible for internationalization of applications) is quite simple with the content placed in separate XML files. Further, as XML data is stored in text format, migration and upgrading to different systems is also easier. The same data can be reused in a new system and so XML saves on data conversion time and costs. Additionally, data losses because of incompatibility are also reduced.

  5. Standardization & wide Acceptance: 

     XML is an international standard, developed and maintained by W3C. Thus, it is vendor-neutral (do not belong to any particular company) and is open-standard. Further, it has been rapidly adopted by industry and finds application across all major vendors in software Industry including Software AG, Microsoft, Netscape, IBM, Sun, SAP.

  6. Search Efficiency: 

    XML has data in machine-readable format. The tree structure of XML documents enables element by element aggregation and comparison of documents, the element structure and tags provide context information, any XML tag can contain multiple attributes such as version or author. These features enable intelligent data mining and improve search efficiency.

  7. Data Access: 

    XML provides access to data from not only HTML pages but also from XML data sources. This improves accessibility to data and different applications running on multiple platforms like handheld computers, news feeds, devices used by specific users like blind people etc. can have access to data.

  8. Multiple types of data: 

    XML allows documents to contain any possible data type from multimedia data including image, video, and sound, to active components like ActiveX or Java applets. Further, it allows mapping of existing data structures to files. 

The versatility of XML is not limited to the above features and various others like simplification of data transport and facility of developing new languages add to its power. However, the above features distinguish and secularize XML over other like HTML and emphasize the reasons behind its wide applicability.  Collaborating with an experienced XML conversion services provider would help organizations leverage the power of this versatile format to a huge extent.

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