Understanding Extensible Markup Language (XML) is becoming an increasingly valuable asset for all IT professionals, especially systems and network managers.
XML is the universal format for structured documents and data on the Web. It is designed to improve the functionality of the Web by providing more flexible and adaptable information identification. XML is a project of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and the development of the specification is being supervised by the W3C's XML Working Group.
XML allows groups of people or organizations to create their own customized markup applications for exchanging information in vertical domains (such as music, finance and engineering). One advantage of XML is that it is helping to standardize document structure, which is making life easier for network administrators who deal with a variety of different vertical markets.
"While network administrators and systems managers needn't necessarily acquire XML skills, if their work involves any kind of data acquisition or management, such knowledge can lead to substantial benefits," said Ed Tittel, president of LANWrights Inc. and a certification consultant.
Research shows that the payoffs can be big. David Foote, president and chief research officer of Foote Partners LLC, said: "Eighty percent of all people getting paid a premium for XML are getting something in the 7% to 12% range [above what they'd get if they didn't have those skills].
How to get the skills
XML will most likely become a basic requirement for IT professionals, Tittel said. It's used to drive many applications, and it's expected to be even more widely used in the future, he said.
If you'd like to cash in on the skills now, Tittel said, there are many XML certifications available. He recommends visiting http://www.gocertify.com for more information. He also suggests these sites:
- Brainbench Certified -XML
- IBM Certified Developer - XML and Related Technologies
- ActiveEducation Certified XML Expert
- Global Knowledge XML Developer Certification
- Learning Tree XML Development Certified Professional
The challenge for IT professionals is to keep on top of evolving trends such as reliable asynchronous Web services interactions and the automation of choreography among business processes. These areas will be the next big focus for Web services, according to Dave Chappell, XML evangelist and COO of Sonic Software.
"The future of XML is very bright," adds Foote. "XML is one of those very special trend-setting technologies that, looking back, people will say, 'I can't believe we ever lived in a world without XML.'"
For more information, read "The XML FAQ".
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About the author
Michelle Graziose Webb (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an IT freelance writer based near Boulder, CO.
This was first published in September 2002