What Is XML and Why Is It Used?

What Is XML and Why Is It Used?

There are several languages on the internet, and it is very common to see people mixing up programming languages with Markup languages.

Programming languages such as Python have libraries and frameworks like BeautifulSoup and lxml. They have rules that, when followed, can be used to instruct computer systems to create different programs.

These programming languages can be easily learned. For instance, you can learn how to use lxml by taking an lxml tutorial. However, being simple doesn’t translate them into Markup languages.

Markup languages are also simple, but unlike programming languages, they have no defined rules but are so flexible that anyone can make their own rules to develop documents on the internet.

One very common Markup language is XML, which most people mistake for programming. It also plays a significant part in web scraping but not the same way as the known frameworks and libraries, as we will see shortly.

What does XML Stand For?

XML is an abbreviated term for Extensible Markup Language. It is a document-based language that is self-descriptive and can store and transport data and information without the need for software or hardware.

It is also the most extensible Markup language, which means the data it contains can be added to continually. The data storage capacity is also enormous and can hold numerous public standards.

Not only are they more extensive compared to other Markup languages, but they are also easier to write and work with.

Its self-descriptive attribute also means that the XML can hold the sender and receiver information and a heading and body of the message. 

What Are The Technicalities And Features of XML?

Below are some unique functionalities and features of this Markup language:

  • The language has zero restrictions and rules and all the flexibility that developers need and can be used to express any data type
  • They can handle and store data in any way the writer wants
  • Large corporations, including Google and Microsoft, often used to serve at the backend of web applications used in creating HTML documents.
  • They facilitate easy data and information transportation and exchange
  • They are extensible, and the documents they hold can be extended to any desired capacity
  • They can be easily merged with style sheets and formats, just as they can easily separate document styles from their format

Key Reasons Why XML is used in Web Scraping

While the XML Markup language cannot be used to create a scraping both in the same way an lxml library can be used, it still plays an important role in gathering data from multiple sources.

And the following are some of the reasons why XML is useful in web scraping:

  • It Can Separate Data From HTML

Web scraping often involves gathering a huge sum of necessary data from different sources. The extraction process needs to focus only on the relevant and necessary data.

XML can easily separate different data from HTML and store them in separate XML files.

That way, you can take the files you need during web scraping and leave behind the ones you don’t need.

  • It Enables Data Sharing

For data to be extracted, it needs to exist in a state that can be easily shared with the scraping bot.

XML can store data in plain text format, making sharing the data across the internet regardless of the software and hardware type.

It makes it possible to share data by different applications and tools, some of which you might use in web scraping.

  • XML Aids Data Transportation

Transportation of data across servers and websites is also a serious concern for anyone who scrapes data.

Some data exist on some servers but can’t be transported by certain applications because of compatibility.

XML mitigates this by breaking down data on every platform to become readable by different applications. This makes it possible for the programs and applications to transport the data from the servers to the clients.

  • XML Increases Data Availability

One of the key requirements of a successful data extraction process is always having much data.

There has to be new and updated data to collect for web scraping to work. 

XML is capable of being extensible and receiving new information. It has no limit to how much information it can hold at any given time. And this is what your web scraping exercise needs: abundant data that is easy to read and collect.

How Does XML Work?

XML works in a straightforward manner. However, the principle with which it works would depend on what the developer allows.

Generally speaking, the Markup languages store data in a well-structured format in what is known as XML files, and you can use the Python library known as lxml to pull out the stored data.

Using the lxml is simple, but you will need to take an lxml tutorial to begin working with this library. Go to the blog article to get started with lxml without much effort. 


XML is a fine Markup language that is more extensible than any other Markup language. It is used with programming languages and libraries like the lxml to gather data during web scraping.

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