25 years of XML

XML is now 25 years old. You probably missed the XML standard on the 10th of February 1998 (design work started 1996; 27 years ago), but it’s almost certain that XML has touched your life in many ways.

The idea of one strictly compliant universal markup language to rule them all was extremely interesting in an era when the Internet was becoming the standard means to interchange information.

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple text-based format for representing structured information: documents, data, configuration, books, transactions, invoices, and much more. It was derived from an older standard format called SGML (ISO 8879), in order to be more suitable for Web use.

XML is one of the most widely-used formats for sharing structured information today. XML looks very similar similar to HTML. However, the syntax rules of XML are strict: XML tools will not process files that contain errors, but instead will give you error messages so that you fix them.

This means that almost all XML documents can be processed reliably by computer software, but it is not always easy to use. When XML is used to standardise large structured datasets it can sometimes be enough to bring the developers to tears.

It’s 25 years old, and here to stay! XML is very widely used today. It is the basis of a great many standards such as the Universal Business Language (UBL), Universal Plug and Play (UPnP), XHTML, ODF, OOXML, SVG, XMLRPC, SOAP, Web Services.

In practice the one-size-fits-all approach of XML was not best for everything. To was hard to be hammered to fit into lightweight protocols though. So standards likes of JSON and HTML4 were developed.


XML Is A Quarter Century Old






Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0
W3C Recommendation 10-February-1998


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