What is the Difference Between XML and HTML

Someone who has just started web developing would ask about the difference between XML and HTML. Although they both serve different purposes, it is understandable why a newbie would get confused between the two. They both sound and look the same.

Computers infiltrated deeply into our previously simple lives. We have become addicted, and most of us wouldn’t even last a day without using at least one of our many gadgets. More and more sections of life depend on technology in general and Internet in particular. You can now work online, tutor or be tutored and shop without leaving the comfort of your home.

Programming and web development is a growing market. Everyone and everything needs a software or web developer. Technology is advancing and you just never know what to expect tomorrow. It is becoming to be obvious that a career in computer technology may mean a secure job opportunity as soon as you finish educating yourself.

Beginning to work in this field can actually be quite confusing. You probably didn’t study almost any of this in school. Perhaps, you don’t have anyone to break it down into smaller, understandable fragments, like a teacher would do.

Most of the times, you are simply thrown into the world of overwhelming strange terminology. Many people will tell you that all you need is a notepad for web development, but that is over simplification. There is a lot more to it obviously, albeit, the essence is simple.

The Definitions

Let’s evaluate and find the difference between two often mixed up terms: HTML and XML. However, before learning the difference between XML and HTML, let us first define the two terms.


Difference Between XML and HTML 2

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. HTML is a markup language used for writing and designing websites and web applications. It’s the bread and butter of web development, and it’s the most important thing to learn along with CSS and Javascript.

HTML has gone through several version updates. The latest version of HTML is 5.0 which was released in 2014. HTML coding can be done using a simple text editor such as Notepad. You can simply save your file as .html and open with your browser. That is what your website would look like. HTML uses specific tags to add different structures such as paragraphs, images, videos, etc.. Let’s take a look at a specific HTML tag:

<b>….bold text…</b>

What this tag does is embolden the text contained within the <b></b> tags.  That is pretty much it. You start from scratch and have to add your content one by one and then make it all look pretty for your audience with the help of CSS.

Unlike programming language, this scripting language does have any logic. It does not have any conditional statements, loops, arrays, or functions. Thus, it is quite easy to learn.


Difference Between XML and HTML 3XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a markup language that defines a set of rules or a syntax that can encode documents in a way that is understandable for humans and readable by machines. XML gravitates towards being simple to use and it’s focused to be used easily across the Internet. Its coding system consists of textual data and simple words. It’s supported via Unicode for many different human languages.

XML is made to help describe various documents to be displayed in a browser. It can be hard to make your documents be quickly available for everyone to check on their mobile devices. However, XML is not limited solely to web display, or even for human interaction. Some web services use XML to send data requests back and forth. XML is also a meta-language, which means it can be used to create other languages, such as RSS.

What’s the Difference Between XML and HTML?

Difference Between XML and HTML

The difference between HTML and XML is quite obvious once you learn a thing or two about certain terms used in web development. Both of these programming languages have “markup” in their name which means they use certain elements to enter the data. HTML was designed with a purpose to design web pages with the main focus being on how the data looks and how it is presented.

Different Use of Tags

XML, on the other hand, was developed to transport and store data in a format available for everyone to open and see. It is not a scripting language like HTML, but more like a language able to create and define other languages. The X in the abbreviation stands for eXtensible, which means that it can be extended by its users. It does not come with pre-assigned tags and users are able to create their own, while following a specific set of rules.

HTML uses pre-defined tags which consist of an opening and a closing tag. The data between the tags usually represents certain textual or visual data which will be available to see. The letters between the brackets define that specific tag. HTML is only one one of the languages needed to produce a high-quality website and rarely any page uses only HTML code to display.

XML Is the Future

XML is more like a complement to HTML as it can store its data inside HTML documents in a part called a “data island.” It’neither a programming language nor a presentation language. Many claim that XML is the future of web development because it’s relatively new (XML came out in 1996). Developers really accepted it quickly and started to implement it in their web development.

XML uses strictly properly encoded Unicode characters, without any weird signs. That is because it follows a strict set of rules or a syntax. It also implements a DDT principle (Defining the Document Type) which is a format used to explain what a certain XML code represents, what purpose does it serve and how are certain tags defined.

It’s Not a Competition

XML will never be able to replace HTML since XML is a complement to HTML. They serve a different purpose which can be put into one sentence: XML is useful for data presentation, and XML is useful for data description.

They have certain similarities when it comes to coding because they sort of look alike, with their tag structure and elements. However, XML offers a unique way to describe that data, and the freedom which was given to developers while using XML led to the development of new programming languages.

This all may seem confusing at first, but once you get the hang of everything terms are easy to remember. If you want to design websites for a living, be aware that it takes many years to become an expert, like any normal human profession. This means it’s time to start now!