As developers of software you have a few chooses to store information. In database format, be it in a actual database like MySQL or MS SQL or an own created text format. This is all fine and will work, as it has for ages. But when you have to share information with other applications it starts to form problems. That’s were many people say XML comes in to play.
But does it really. I mean sure it can help you to share information between the various programs. That’s cool and exactly what it was made for. But when you read the papers surrounding XML you also find there are no rules that help you define how the content should look.
Sure you have rules stating you must close tags (those things starting with <). And the words are case sensitive. But who is to know what the tags stand for. If I were to email you the XML output of a program, would you then now what it’s content meant? Would you be able to track down an application that understands it?
I think XML is a great step in making information more readable and accessible, but there should be some standard notations for the various applications. Like one standard for text editors and one fixed standard for financial programs. Otherwise XML isn’t going to help us at all. (Note that the first steps are taken with the OpenDocumen Format)