XML: It's Not Your Father's HTML | 2
XML in the Browser
The big news in this category is that the next versions of the browsers from both Microsoft and Netscape will support the display of XML. This means that XML content can displayed in those browsers without having to be transformed into HTML first. Moreover, the browsers will support the DOM (Document Object Model), a W3C standard for accessing and manipulating XML. The DOM will let Web site authors manipulate XML content inside pages through scripting.
XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language) can also be used to transform XML to HTML on the fly in the browser, providing a way to deliver data and present it on demand.
How will these features be used? You can expect to see XML data delivered to the browsers but only selectively displayed, under user control. For example, your stock portfolio information could be downloaded to your browser, but you could chose to first show only the top three biggest changers. Then you could show summary statistics or historical data, all without going back to the server to get more data. The result is a faster, more individualized browsing experience.
It is interesting to note that you can "sprinkle" XML tags among HTML tags. Since browsers ignore tags they don't understand, you can display such pages in all browsers. But the pages (with a little care) can also be valid XML documents, and so are available to be processed by XML applications. So, for example, you could display your job ad in your own site as HTML, but have the same ad picked up by a content aggregation site to be stored in a database. The XML tags could let you reliably indicate which numbers in the ad refer to salary, which are part of the address, etc.
Comments are welcome
Revised: February 16, 1999