Format Description Categories
Browse Alphabetical List
XML (Extensible Markup Language)
Format Description Properties
- ID: fdd000075
- Short name: XML
- Content categories:
- Format Category:
- Other facets:
text, structured, symbolic
- Last significant FDD update:
- Draft status: Partial
Identification and description
||Extensible Markup Language (XML)
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). XML documents fall into two broad categories: data-centric and document-centric. Data-centric documents are those where XML is used as a data transport. Examples include sales orders, patient records, directory entries, and metadata records. One significant use of data-centric XML is for manifests (lists) of digital content; another is for metadata embedded into digital content files. Document-centric documents are those in which XML is used for its SGML-like capabilities, reflecting the structure of particular classes of documents, such as books with chapters, user manuals, newsfeeds and articles incorporating explicit metadata in addition to the text. An XML document's markup structure can be defined by a schema language and validated against a definition in that language. The initial, and as of 2008, most widely used schema languages are the Document Type Definition (DTD) language and W3C XML Schema. Other schema languages exist, including RDF and RELAX-NG.
||Can be used as initial, middle, or final-state format.
|Relationship to other formats
XML (Extensible Markup Language) 1.0
XML (Extensible Markup Language) 1.1
Document Type Definition
W3C XML Schema Language
|LC experience or existing holdings
||Used by LC to represent metadata records (including MARC bibliographic and authority records, MODS, METS) for web-compatible interchange, in particular using the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting and SRU (Search/Retrieval via URL).
||May be a preferred format for textual content, metadata records, or as a wrapper format for complex digital objects if conformant to an appropriate standard or agreed DTD or schema that can be used for technical validation. LC will express preferences based on specific DTDs, W3C XML Schema instances, or instance documents in other schema languages for defining XML-based formats. LC will prefer XML that represents the structure of documents rather than layout.
Open standard. Developed by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). To be useful for interoperability or long-term content preservation, an XML document must be associated with a schema specification for the elements and tags it contains. Such schema specifications (see XML_DTD and XML_XSD) must also be disclosed.
||Maintained by W3C [http://www.w3.org/XML/]. Specifications for the two versions as of 2008 are at Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 and Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.1.
Very widely adopted as the basis for interchange of documents and data over the Web. Many generic tools exist, including free and open source software. Major software vendors have all incorporated support for XML in some form.
| Licensing and patents
XML is human-readable and designed for straightforward automatic parsing. For the contents to be understood, a well-documented DTD, XML Schema, or other specification is needed. Human-comprehensible element tags are advantageous for transparency.
XML is widely used as a syntax for metadata, and metadata for all purposes can be embedded in XML documents with appropriate schema specifications.
|Technical protection considerations
Quality and functionality factors
||XML can represent all UNICODE characters, with UTF-8 being the default character encoding. XML tagging offers potential for explicitly representing logical structure of text, such as paragraphs and headings, and character emphasis (bold, italics, etc.). Effective support for normal rendering is dependent on an appropriate DTD or schema specification.
|Integrity of document structure
||XML is ideal for representing document structure.
|Integrity of layout and display
||For textual content, best practice is to have the XML represent the logical document structure and use stylesheets to render the text in a form appropriate for the end user.
|Support for mathematics, formulae, etc.
||Requires specialized markup (e.g., MathML) and corresponding rendering engine. Scholars in many scientific disciplines are not satisfied with the performance of such rendering engines.
|Functionality beyond normal rendering
||Depends on particular DTD or schema specification.
File type signifiers
||Common practice for XML document instances is to use the .xml extension. The particular schema or DTD should be declared within the document. Some schemas specify the use of different file extensions.
|Internet Media Type
|If an XML document is readable by casual users, text/xml is preferred. See RFC 3023 for further details.
||Although no byte sequences can be counted on to always be
present, XML MIME entities in ASCII-compatible charsets
(including UTF-8) often begin with hexadecimal 3C 3F 78 6D 6C
("<?xml"), and those in UTF-16 often begin with hexadecimal FE
FF 00 3C 00 3F 00 78 00 6D 00 6C or FF FE 3C 00 3F 00 78 00 6D
00 6C 00 (the Byte Order Mark (BOM) followed by "<?xml"). See RFC 3023 for further details.
||The original design goals for XML were:
- 1. XML shall be straightforwardly usable over the Internet.
- 2. XML shall support a wide variety of applications.
- 3. XML shall be compatible with SGML.
- 4. It shall be easy to write programs which process XML documents.
- 5. The number of optional features in XML is to be kept to the absolute minimum, ideally zero.
- 6. XML documents should be human-legible and reasonably clear.
- 7. The XML design should be prepared quickly.
- 8. The design of XML shall be formal and concise.
- 9. XML documents shall be easy to create.
- 10. Terseness in XML markup is of minimal importance.
||"XML is primarily intended to meet the requirements of large-scale Web content providers for industry-specific markup, vendor-neutral data exchange, media-independent publishing, one-on-one marketing, workflow management in collaborative authoring environments, and the processing of Web documents by intelligent clients. It is also expected to find use in certain metadata applications. XML is fully internationalized for both European and Asian languages, with all conforming processors required to support the Unicode character set in both its UTF-8 and UTF-16 encodings. The language is designed for the quickest possible client-side processing consistent with its primary purpose as an electronic publishing and data interchange format." [from 1997-12-08 W3C press release]
- Latest specifications as of March 2008.
- Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.0 (Fourth Edition) (http://www.w3.org/TR/xml/). W3C Recommendation 16 August 2006, Tim Bray, Jean Paoli, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, Eve Maler, François Yergeau eds.
- Extensible Markup Language (XML) 1.1 (Second Edition) (http://www.w3.org/TR/xml11/). W3C Recommendation, 16 August 2006, Tim Bray, Jean Paoli, C. M. Sperberg-McQueen, Eve Maler, François Yergeau, John Cowan, ed.
Saturday, 08-Feb-2014 17:08:25 EST