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XML has become "the standard means of transmitting unstructured, semi-structured and even structured data across different platforms"and as such, has evolved into a key component of the real time enterprise.

The assessment came from Lee Sutton, Co-Director of Magic Software's Integration Competence Center, in the ebizQ webinar Essential XML Integration for the Real-Time Enterprise, part of the Magic-sponsored series A Manager's Guide to Service Oriented Architectures.

"XML is eXtensible Markup Language,"Sutton explained. "It was basically created to improve the functionality and content of the Internet. It's intended to create, share and transmit documents very easily across the Web. But XML is not just about Web pages. It can be used to store any kind of structured or even unstructured information. It will encapsulate data in order to transfer it between different computer systems that were previously incapable of communicating.

"XML provides much more flexibility and adaptability than formats such as HTML or any of the proprietary formats. It is extensible, so it's not a fixed format like HTML. XML is a language for describing other languages. It actually enables you to design your own markup languages. XML can be read by a human or easily by a computer system or integration system.

"A format can be created in XML by combining and reusing other formats. XML is a free and platform-independent document type,"Sutton continued. "So it's not by any specific vendor. Using XML as a foundation for your project will open up many doors for you, so it's a very good standard to be basing your projects on. You won't be tied to any specific vendor for communication, creation or consumption of this document format.

"XML employs XML servers, which are platforms for developing applications that send and receive XML,"he added. "They simplify tasks of creating and consuming XML documents or transformations. …XML servers can actually be specialized applications, or complete application development frameworks.

Sutton said XML is useful for processing in real-time (when requests are processed immediately), near real-time (there's a short delay in processing when compared with real-time) or asynchronously (when requests are processed whenever the resources become available), and he described the nuts and bolts of each.


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