The attention paid by the Internet community to Extensible Markup Language (XML) is impressive. XML has been heralded as the next important Internet technology, the next step following the HyperText Markup Language (HTML), and the natural and worthy companion to the Java programming language.
HTML defines a single, fixed type of document with markups that let you describe a common class of simple office-style reports. As Web documents have become larger and more complex, Web content providers have begun to experience the limitations of a medium that does not provide the extensibility, structure, and data checking needed for large-scale commercial applications. The ability of Java applets to embed powerful data manipulation capabilities in Web clients makes even clearer the limitations of current methods for the transmittal of document data.
XML takes document markup to the next level, offering a human-readable, self-explaining, well-structured, extendable and consistent way to describe and transfer data. XML promises to be as big a revolution to the Web as HTML was.
This paper describes the XML effort, makes a survey of most of the associated specifications and discusses new kinds of Java-based Web applications made possible by XML. The paper also discusses the impact that XML will have on some of the existing technologies, like Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and the exchange of industrial data (STEP). The end of this paper describes in detail one of the first efforts made to use XML in an industrial application.