XML is an important tool for all web developers, even those who
dont use Flash. XML provides the basis for much
of the content on the Internet, and its importance will only
increase over time. Many people consider XML the
of the Internet as it provides the standards for data
Web developers use XML to create their own languages to store,
As a developer, you can use the same XML content for many different purposes. For example, you could use a single XML document to power a .NET application as well as a Java version. You could also transform the content into an XHTML document, a Flash movie, or a PDF file.
A physical XML document provides portability over and above that
of a database. Creating an XML document enables you to distribute
database content offline. For example, you can use the XML file
with a stand-alone Flash movie and distribute it on a CD-ROM. In
addition, providing an XML layer between a
The built-in support for XML within Flash allows Flash
developers to use XML data within any Flash movie. Using the
content from XML documents enables you to update your movies
without ever having to
You can save maintenance time by allowing your clients to manage
their own content. Its often not practical for
them to learn how to use Flash, and in reality, you probably
dont want to give your clients access to the
Flash movies that youve created. Instead, you
provide mechanisms for
I have clients who update the content of their Flash movies using Office 2003. They make the changes within Word, Access, or Excel 2003; export the content in XML format; and replace the existing XML file with the new file theyve just created. They can use a web page to upload the new XML file to their website, or they can burn it to a CD-ROM with a stand-alone Flash file.
These clients have the flexibility to change their Flash movie content whenever they like, and Ive found that most clients are very comfortable working this way. It also saves me from continually editing their Flash movies each time the content changes.
In this chapter, youve learned about XML and the contents of XML documents. Youve also learned about the differences between XML, HTML, and XHTML. As a developer or designer, I hope Ive shown you the advantages of working with XML in your applications.
The importance of XML cannot be overstated. As a technology, it allows organizations to create their own mechanisms for sharing information. At its simplest, XML provides a structured, text-based alternative to a database. More complex uses of XML might involve data interactions between corporate systems and outside consumers of information. The most important thing to remember is that an XML document can provide a data source for many different applications.
The widespread adoption of XML by major software companies such as Microsoft and Macromedia ensure its future. Most of the popular database packages provide XML support. If its not already there, expect XML to become part of most software packages in the near future.