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Extensible Markup Language (XML)

Platform/Software
Year initiated: 
1996
Record Status: 
Description: 

XML is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format which is both human-readable and machine-readable. It is defined by the W3C's XML 1.0 Specification and by several other related specifications, all of which are free open standards.

The design goals of XML emphasize simplicity, generality and usability across the Internet. It is a textual data format with strong support via Unicode for different human languages. Although the design of XML focuses on documents, it is widely used for the representation of arbitrary data structures such as those used in web services.

Several schema systems exist to aid in the definition of XML-based languages, while many application programming interfaces (APIs) have been developed to aid the processing of XML data.

(Wikipedia) 

Version history (text): 

XML is an application profile of SGML (ISO 8879). The versatility of SGML for dynamic information display was understood by early digital media publishers in the late 1980s prior to the rise of the Internet. By the mid-1990s some practitioners of SGML had gained experience with the then-new World Wide Web, and believed that SGML offered solutions to some of the problems the Web was likely to face as it grew. Dan Connolly added SGML to the list of W3C's activities when he joined the staff in 1995; work began in mid-1996 when Sun Microsystems engineer Jon Bosak developed a charter and recruited collaborators. Bosak was well connected in the small community of people who had experience both in SGML and the Web.

XML was compiled by a working group of eleven members, supported by a (roughly) 150-member Interest Group. Technical debate took place on the Interest Group mailing list and issues were resolved by consensus or, when that failed, majority vote of the Working Group. A record of design decisions and their rationales was compiled by Michael Sperberg-McQueen on December 4, 1997. James Clark served as Technical Lead of the Working Group, notably contributing the empty-element "<empty />" syntax and the name "XML". Other names that had been put forward for consideration included "MAGMA" (Minimal Architecture for Generalized Markup Applications), "SLIM" (Structured Language for Internet Markup) and "MGML" (Minimal Generalized Markup Language). The co-editors of the specification were originally Tim Bray and Michael Sperberg-McQueen. Halfway through the project Bray accepted a consulting engagement with Netscape, provoking vociferous protests from Microsoft. Bray was temporarily asked to resign the editorship. This led to intense dispute in the Working Group, eventually solved by the appointment of Microsoft's Jean Paoli as a third co-editor.

The XML Working Group never met face-to-face; the design was accomplished using a combination of email and weekly teleconferences. The major design decisions were reached in a short burst of intense work between August and November 1996, when the first Working Draft of an XML specification was published. Further design work continued through 1997, and XML 1.0 became a W3C Recommendation on February 10, 1998.

(Wikipedia) 

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Extensible Markup Language
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Record posted by: 
Sumeya Hassan