XML - Simple
I don't want to get too technical on the XML side, so I will keep this simple. XML is a means of describing data in tag format. In plain english, XML lets you make up tags which best describe the information each tag represents. Unlike HTML, which is a simple formatting language for text and media, XML has nothing to do with formatting the data, just describing it. Confused? Well, let's look at a really simple example to clear things up. This is a REALLY simple person XML document containing my first and last name as XML data.
<%lt%>?xml version="1.0"<%gt%> <%lt%>person<%gt%> <%lt%>last_name<%gt%>Smith<%lt%>/last_name<%gt%> <%lt%>first_name<%gt%>Chris<%lt%>/first_name<%gt%> <%lt%>/person<%gt%>
Not a very complex example, I know, but I think it demonstrates the basics of xml. Rather than putting this kind of data in an html table, which makes it very hard to get at and do anything with (such as reformatting it, sorting it, etc.), the data itself is marked up with tags which describe what the data is.
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