What Good Is It?
Now after all this XML mumbo jumbo, here's the million dollar question: what good is it to you on your site? Making records like this is all well and good for nice neat data storage, but try displaying this doc in most web browsers and you will see nothing but the raw text with all the tags stripped out. How can you use this data for displaying it to users? Well up to now, the best means of formatting XML data has been through XSL stylesheets, a formatting and styling language for XML which can read your data, and based on the information in the stylesheet (also written in a subset of XML), display the data in any format you like. An xsl stylesheet can display your data as html, wml, you name it.
Most of the tools out there for displaying XML data are varied, ranging from the very good to the not so good. The most recent browsers (IE 4 and above, and the new Netscape 6) can take XML and an XSL stylesheet and spit out the formatting you like, but since XML and XSL are still pretty new, the implementations across browsers is pretty scattered. Server-side programs in most every language are out there that can parse and display XML, including Java, PHP, Perl, just to name a few. While the server-side tools are usually a bit more reliable, still there are wide and varied differences between their implementations and gotchas, so the web developer must often beware.
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