I often see message board posts asking what exactly XML is. The first Google link will take you to Wikipedia, where the acronym is translated as the Extensible Markup Language. It is defined as a set of rules for encoding documents. Sounds simple enough.

Here is the funny thing. I don't think they teach XML in college. Not even in computer science digress. If it was described in a class, it would be in the Web 2.0 class, which happens to not exist.

Some have called XML a complicated protocol. Others just call it a file type. An easy way of dealing with XML is to use tools to take care of the details. Actually I want to correct my initial statements. The very first link on Google search was a sponsored one by Altova. They were pushing their XML Spy program. I have used it before. Even though it is expensive, it makes XML easier to deal with.

But I digress. XML lets humans read file contents. The files themselves are ASCII text, which get sent over the Internet using the TCP/IP transmission protocol. I have written a whole blog about this subject. We plan to import XML files in our system at work next year. I wanted to purchase a copy of XMLSpy for use at work. However the price tag seems to have given my customer caution. The tool is not more expensive than some of the other software development tools they buy me. However XML is more specialized, and I am not sure I can justify the return on investment.