XML and Friends


I never learnt XML at University, by time I learnt programming JSon had won the Web Services war and it seemed a waste of my limited energy to study this verbose language, however a recent project forced me to take another look at this EXtensible Markup Language.

On the surface of it this looked like a 10 minute job; go to W3C Schools, read the tutorials and start coding. Unfortunately in programming, for every language you learn you will need to learn 2 more to make it work. Let me explain:

XML is easy enough, but to use XML effectively you need to learn XSLT, not too bad, but then to use XSLT you need to learn XPath. Using XPath? You need to learn XQuery, XLink and XPointer. Oh and by the way you will need to learn XML Schemas and DTD’s to really make your code multi-platform.

Robert Morel XML

XML is a simple clean language that is easy to learn. The XML stack is insidious. It starts easy then jumps in complexity. Some might say that learning XML and it’s related languages is not difficult but rather tedious. I would agree with this. It is difficult to put in the energy when you look out the window and see JSon and friends having a good old time.

I will press on with my task of learning XML; my ultimate goal being to understand the workings of Apache Ant, a Java-based build tool that utilizes XML based configuration files. Just another build tool.

Robert Morel is a Software Developer and Freelance WordPress Developer at Amarria and a blogger for B.I.S.S. Research. Contact me at robert.morel@bissresearch.com


  1. In the technical space, the purity of computer languages is an issue. However, when looking at it from a data strategy perspective, some additional criteria have to be considered.

    In particular, XML schema can be lifted to higher complexity levels enabling data bridging between different data landscapes. Bridging gaps towards ontology engineering and creating high-performance connections to relational databases (yes, RDBMS can be high-performing and are still state-of-the-art, although in combination with NoSQL DBs) is another critical issue where XML documents can come into play.

    In sum, XML data management is definitely a worthwhile investment when it comes to data integration, data interoperability and the management of complex IT architectures.

  2. Yes Hermann, despite its shortcomings XML still has an important place in modern infrastructure. JSon is a versatile format but it can’t compare with XML for organized structuring of data.