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eXtensible Markup Language
Living in the uncertain development environment created by rapid implementation of new devices, applications and file formats, it's a relief to witness the growing acceptance of XML as the data exchange format of the future. There is a wealth of information available on the internet concerning XML and I have included some key links in the Resources section, but here are a few of the many positive attributes of XML that I think will prove particularly important.
The last attribute is of most interest to developers of web sites that need to deliver data in multiple formats. By using XML and XSL in combination, we are afforded a form of insurance against future browser developments; are able to implement multiple presentation formats for the same data; and allow our users more flexibility in how their data is formatted, without changing the underlying code that retrieves the data.
By developing our services so that all our content is generated and stored in XML format, we can delay decisions about the device presentation aspects until immediately prior to delivery. As the standards change and develop, we modify or add stylesheets that the XSL Transformation processor uses to generate the final content without affecting our underlying database access code. There will also be opportunities in future to offload some of the processing load used to render the output to the client device as XSL transformation facilities are built in to client software.