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XML – an update

It has been a while since I wrote on XML. I’ve been pouring over material and thought I would put some new information out as well as ask for some feedback.

First, I need to make clear XML is a markup language, not programming language. It won’t “do” anything. Rather, it is a way to tag your content – words or pictures. So you can’t program XML to display a web page or interact with some database. You would use XML to tag the information for display on a web page or to identify information from a database but not actually to program anything.

How do you “create” XML? XML is actually very simple to “create”. You don’t need any special software, you don’t need a student or professional skilled in XML langauage. XML is plain text meaning you can use the default text editing software. You can also use Word, Excel, Access, Filemaker, Indesign or InCopy which each having some advantages over just plain text editing software. Note there are many other programs out there these are just some more common ones.

XML and text boxes

In order to really get the most out of XML, you have to think about how you layout your print piece. Now, ideally you wouldn’t have to worry about it at all and I would be misleading if I said your design/use of text boxes would prevent you from using XML. However, thinking about how you want to use XML and your workflow is important. So yes, thinking about how you layout your page in terms of text boxes is important.

Why? It is all a matter of tagging. Tagging is the process of, well, tagging your content with the XML information. In Indesign you can tag XML a variety of ways – drag and drop, direct text selecting, and auto-tagging (don’t get your hopes up by the name, this isn’t a magical wand). There seem to be two different theories one being you should layout your project with one text box which would hold the headline, byline and story. The other theory is you have a different text box for each component – headline, byline and story. Each can have there own benefits but it would be nice to know how most people currently layout a newspaper in Indesign.  I have a little poll, if you don’t mind participating. I couldn’t get the poll to embed so if you can click the link it will take you to the poll.

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