Applications that Benefit from Using XML

Question:
What types of applications can I use XML in? Also, how do I convert my existing ASP-based applications into XML?

Answer:

While there really isn’t any application that probably couldn’t use XML, at least in a Web environment, there are several applications that really benefit from it:

  • Any Web application where you need to format database information into a table, form, combo box, or similar structure, especially with integrated filtering and sorting.
  • Any Web site where you may have a fixed format but different content depending upon password permissions, localizations, or browser capacity.
  • Any Web application where you need to transmit large quantities of structured information between the browser and the server.
  • Any time that you need to create navigation into a hierarchical structure that’s not necessarily system dependent (for example, a table of contents of information for files that may be located in different folders than expected (or even different machines).
  • Places where you wish to persist data in a stateless environment.
  • Places where you need to develop a low level messenging system between client and server, and don’t want to introduce highly complex components to do it.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. You should use XML in places where the dataload isn’t huge, but moves beyond a few bytes, as a transport protocol. You should use it in places where you need to be able to easily change “views” of your data, without complex queries. XML isn’t a terribly good database, but it is a superb data transport language, and a better data transformation language.

As to the latter part of your question, I wouldn’t recommend changing any of your current ASP code. My experience has been that you’re better off integrating XML into your system with new projects?as you gain more proficiency and start developing better libraries of “transforms,” you’ll also be able to see where you can begin to leverage the code to convert legacy systems.

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