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 Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language that defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format that is both human-readable and machine-readable. The World Wide Web Consortium's XML 1.0 Specification of 1998 and several other related specifications—all of them free open standards—define XML.

 The design goals of XML emphasize simplicity, generality, and usability across the Internet. It is a textual data format with strong support via Unicode for different human languages. Although the design of XML focuses on documents, the language is widely used for the representation of arbitrary data structures such as those used in web services.

Wikipedia - XML
W3C XML homepages
XML 1.0 Specification
XML Protocol

 The XML specification defines an XML document as a well-formed text, meaning that it satisfies a list of syntax rules provided in the specification. Some key points in the fairly lengthy list include:

 1. The document contains only properly encoded legal Unicode characters. 

 2. None of the special syntax characters such as < and & appear except when performing their markup-delineation roles. 

 3. The start-tag, end-tag, and empty-element tag that delimit elements are correctly nested, with none missing and none overlapping. 

 4. Tag names are case-sensitive; the start-tag and end-tag must match exactly. 

 5. Tag names cannot contain any of the characters !"#$%&'()*+,/;< = >?@[\]^`{|}~, nor a space character, and cannot begin with "-", ".", or a numeric digit. 

 6. A single root element contains all the other elements. 

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