As with any new technology, eXtensible Markup Language (XML) was greeted by some as the missing piece of technology that would help the insurance industry control costs, increase speed to market and enable SEMCI (single-entry, multiple-company interface), along with a host of new business models.
Some even seemed to think that XML alone would solve the long-standing challenges of developing consistent business rules and interfacing with legacy systems.
So goes the myth of XMLa perception that the finish line is near.
The reality is equally exciting. However, its more the excitement youd feel at the start of a triathlon.
XML is a markup language that shares similar syntax to HTML. Simply put, XML is a text-based method of defining information that consists of tags, elements and attributes that help give structure to and describe the information.
Since its emergence onto the scene in 1998, XML has been surrounded as much by mythology as it has by excitement.
The Myth: XML is an extension of HTML.
The Truth: In HTML, the tags and their meanings, or semantics, are fixed for the strict purpose of instructing a Web browser on how to form content. XML, however, does not specify semantics or tags, but leaves it open to be defined by the user.
The concept of HTML is based on a relatively small set of standard tags; the XML concept consists of an infinite set of custom tags.
HTML is intended for people to interact with systems, while XML is intended for systems to communicate with each other.
The Myth: XML enables universal access to data
The Truth: Access to XML-based data is dependent on the ability to interpret its structure. Since users can create their own semantics, the key to unlocking an XML document must be published, much like a blueprint. Typically, these are described in Document Type Definition (DTD) files, or XML Schemas. Even with these blueprints, XML-based data is not readily accessible to the electronic universe without published standards, secure access to systems, and applications to process and translate XML documents.
The Myth: XML enables integration of disparate systems.
The Truth: On its own, XML does not enable the integration of anything. It does, however, enable data and instructions to be exchanged between systems by providing a common language. This is why XML is often referred to as the “lingua franca” of the Internet. If users of a given set of systems come together and define standard tags, XML would play an essential role; however, it would be only one piece of the puzzle.