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Read the whole "XML JavaBeans" series:
For some, XML seems one of those ideas that, while exciting at first, isn't entirely useable in practice. How would a developer use XML in a real life system? What good is the ability to define custom tags if no browsers understand them? In this month's column, we'll look at a possible application of XML -- namely, using it as a serialization format for JavaBeans.
First, you'll read a quick rundown of what XML is and why so many people are so excited about it. Next, you'll hear about the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C's) Document Object Model, the proposed standard for representing documents as data structures. As an example of processing a document as a data structure, we'll describe a very small custom markup language, and then implement a class that reads an XML file and transforms it into a JavaBean.
Please note that the primary purpose of this article is to provide an example of XML in use. While it is not an introduction to XML for the complete novice, this article should be comprehensible with just a bit of preparatory reading (see the introductory articles listed in the Resources section.)
There's a great deal of introductory material on the Web about XML, so we're going to go over XML basics pretty quickly. Let's start by discussing why XML is necessary in the first place.
It's easy to make the argument that HTML enabled the explosion of the Web. Among the many strengths that have made HTML the dominant format for Web documents are the following:
Despite these and the many other strengths that make HTML so useful and, well, cool, it has some serious drawbacks that are rapidly becoming obstacles to using it in serious data applications:
xml4jpackage is available free for noncommercial use. It's even free for commercial use, but be sure to read the license agreement first http://www.alphaWorks.ibm.com/formula/XML