The standards-setting body World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), as expected, today made XML a standard.
Considered by many a great leap forward for Web-based content, XML 1.0 is the W3C's first iteration of the eXtensible Markup Language, a system for defining, validating, and sharing document formats on the Web.
XML is related to HTML, the language the Web is built on, but allows for much greater flexibility in describing documents and data. Proponents say that adoption of XML--which has already made its way into several applications--will make networked information easier to find, categorize, and customize.
For example, XML will allow online booksellers to use tags such as "price," "number of pages," and "author." A customer with an XML browser then can use these specific criteria to sort through the inventory and arrange the results on the desktop. Combined with Java programs as well as new techniques known collectively as dynamic HTML, XML will make browsers much more flexible, according to Tim Bray, coeditor of the XML specification.
XML was created and developed by the W3C XML Working Group, which includes key industry players such as Adobe, DataChannel, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Netscape Communications, and Sun Microsystems, as well as experts in structured documents and electronic publishing.
Several of those companies, including Microsoft, Adobe Systems, DataChannel, and webMethods, have released or announced plans to release Internet software that reads XML.