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The XML Family
of Technologies
I n t ro d u c i n g t h e Te c h n o l o g y
Selecting a Specification and Development Environment
The proliferation of similar-sounding acronyms (XML, XSL, XSLT, XHTML, etc.)
can make the process of familiarisation with XML somewhat intimidating. A good first
step for organisations planning on making the move into extensibility and interoperability
would be the acquisition of a handbook introducing the issues in a readable and approach-
able way.
XML can be developed by a single user at a single computer running freely available
software. A dedicated,WYSIWYG development environment is more helpful and user-
friendly than a plain text editor, not to mention more attractive.There are both Open
Source (e.g. Xerlin)
and commercially available (e.g. Corel's XMetal)
Of course a decision to introduce XML need not be overly influenced by the choices of
development environment, nor need it be negatively coloured by the initially intimidating
range of material. XML is not an `all or nothing' technology, and can be introduced
Technological Infrastructure Issues
The introduction of XML will not be technologically demanding, but may require some
cultural and organisational change. In order to view and manipulate XML files, staff require
access to the latest versions of Internet browsers.These can be freely downloaded from
the vendors'Web sites. In terms of potential expenditure, the training and tools that may
be required in introducing XML should not be overlooked.
For an organisation wishing to adopt server-side XML processing, the technical
demands would be more significant.The chief advantage of this mode of delivery is that
server-side processing can deliver more or less anything to clients, whether or not they
have an up-to-date (XML-compatible) browser. It should be noted that the views and
functionality may vary from client to client.
Both Kenneth B. Sall's XML Family of Specifications. A Practical Guide (Addison Wesley, 2002), and Danny
Vint's similar XML Family of Specifications Reference and Guide (Manning Publications, 2001) would meet
these needs.
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