Extensible Markup Language (XML as it is commonly called) is a technology that has been receiving great attention for the past few years. XML is not new, and it was certainly not invented by Microsoft for use in the .NET environment, but Microsoft recognized the possibilities of XML early in its development. Because of that you will see it performing a large number of duties in .NET, from describing the configuration of your applications to transporting information between Web services.

XML is a way of storing data in a simple text format, which means that it can be read by pretty well any computer. As you've seen in some of the earlier chapters about Web programming, this makes it a perfect format for transferring data over the Internet. It's even not too difficult for humans to read!

The ins and outs of XML can be very complicated, so you won't look at every single detail here. However, the basic format is very simple, and most of the time you won't require a detailed knowledge of XML, because Visual Studio will normally take care of most of the work for you — you will rarely have to write an XML document by hand. Having said that, XML is hugely important in the .NET world, because it's used as the default format for transferring data, so it's vital to understand the basics.

In this chapter, you learn about:

  • The structure and elements of XML
  • XML Schema
  • Using XML in your applications

If you need a fuller understanding of XML, please check out Beginning XML, 3rd Edition ...

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