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What is XML?
XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is designed to improve the functionality of the Web by providing more flexible and adaptable information identification. It is called extensible because it is not a fixed format like HTML (a single, predefined markup language). Instead, XML is actually a `metalanguage' --a language for describing other languages--which lets you design your own customized markup languages for limitless different types of documents.

What is XML for?
XML is intended `to make it easy and straightforward to define document types, easy to author and manage documents, and easy to transmit and share them across the Web.'

It defines an extremely simple dialect which is completely described in the XML Specification. The goal is to enable generic XML documents to be served, received, and processed on the Web in the way that is now possible with HTML.

XML is not just for Web pages: it can be used to store any kind of structured information, and to enclose or encapsulate information in order to pass it between different computing systems which would otherwise be unable to communicate.

Who is responsible for XML?
XML is a project of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and the development of the specification is being supervised by their XML Working Group. A Special Interest Group of co-opted contributors and experts from various fields contributed comments and reviews by email.

XML is a public format: it is not a proprietary development of any company. The v1.0 specification was accepted by the W3C as Recommendation on Feb 10, 1998.

Why is XML such an important development?

It removes two constraints which were holding back Web developments:
- dependence on a single, inflexible document type (HTML) which was being much abused for tasks it was never designed for; XML's syntax allows many powerful but hard-to-program options.
- XML allows the flexible development of user-defined document types. It provides a robust, non-proprietary, persistent, and verifiable file format for the storage and transmission of text and data both on and off the Web.