XML, or Extensible Markup Language, has finally graduated from being a promising idea to a real technology that's transforming the web in new and powerful ways. XML is already changing the way we search the web in subtle ways, and over the next couple of years those changes will accelerate, leading to all sorts of new and improved user experiences.
XML is similar to HTML, but is more flexible. Whereas HTML is essentially just a text markup language, XML is a standard protocol that allows encoding of both text and data. This means computers can easily process even complex XML files with little human intervention, and content can be exchanged across a diverse range of hardware, operating systems, and applications.
You may have heard of XML referred to as next-generation metadata. It is, but it goes far beyond that. XML is an enabler of machine to machine "understanding." This capability could dramatically change the way we search.
For example, rather than retrieving isolated "documents" in response to a query, a search engine could theoretically find and assemble individual "packets" of information into a single, new document that contains exactly what you're looking for.
This is just one possibility. XML is enabling all sorts of new whiz-bang capabilities that will not only help us cope with information overload, but allow us to discover and manipulate information according to our own personal needs and preferences.
If you haven't yet taken the time to learn about XML, there's an excellent new resource available to help you take the plunge. The folks at Northern Light have assembled one of their terrific special editions on XML, and it's one of the most comprehensive resources available covering the subject.
This special edition offers something for everyone, whether you're a complete XML newbie or a seasoned XML codeslinger. The table of contents for the special edition includes:
* Introduction to XML
* XML News and Information Sites
* Basic XML Components
* XML Developer Resources and Tools
* XML Transformation and Style Sheets
* XML Linking and Addressing Languages
* Conferences and Events
* XML Protocols
* XML Associated Standards, Languages and Frameworks
* XML in the Business and Financial Services Sectors
In addition to cataloging some of the web's best XML resources, there are plenty of preconstructed "Live Queries" that run a power search for specific topics on Northern Light's index. This gives you the best of both worlds -- a select directory of XML resources as well as simple but powerful web-wide search.
Northern Light Special Edition: XML
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication's search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.