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HTML Vs XML: Difference Between HTML and XML [2024]

HTML’s full form is Hypertext Markup Language, while XML is an Extensible Markup Language. The purpose of HTML is to display data and focus on how the data looks. Therefore, HTML describes a web page’s structure and displays information, whereas XML structures, stores, and transfers information and describes what the data is.

In web development and data representation, HTML and XML are two fundamental languages playing pivotal roles. Despite their nomenclature having the shared term “Markup Language”, there is a key HTML and XML difference when it comes to their purposes. These languages have distinct functionalities in data presentation, organization, and transfer.

While HTML primarily concerns itself with presenting and visually rendering content, XML centers on the organization, definition, and transfer of data in a manner that allows for a comprehensive understanding and interpretation by various applications and systems.

Understanding the key difference between XML and HTML is crucial in comprehending their functionalities and effectively using their capabilities for diverse purposes in the digital world. 

In this article, HTML and XML shall be discussed in detail to understand the differences between them.

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What is HTML?

Before going on to explain HTML and XML differences, let’s learn more about what HTML is first. 

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a programming language that displays data and describes a web page’s structure. Hypertext facilitates browsing the web by referring to the hyperlinks an HTML page contains. The hyperlink enables one to go to any place on the internet by clicking it. There is no set order to do so.

Markup language points out to the way tags are used in defining the page layout and the elements within the page. It consists of various HTML elements comprising tags and their content. HTML language enables the creation of links of documents, is static, and can ignore small errors. In HTML, closing tags are not necessary. It can be defined as a markup language that makes the text more dynamic and interactive.

HTML is a computer language used to create websites that can be viewed by anyone with internet access. The tags are the words between the <angle brackets> and separate standard text from HTML code. These are displayed on webpages in the form of images, tables, diagrams, and so on.

In order to understand ‘What is a difference between the XML and HTML data formats?’ understand each category first-

Every page stands connected to others via hyperlinks. Everything you see on the world wide web is developed with HTML. This allows for the embedding of texts as well as images on pages. HTML5 is the most current version of the same.A number of web development-related projects stand based on HTML. The latter renders a structure and the basic design for the same. HTML comprises both tags as well as attributes. Tags are represented in writing within angle brackets or <>, and all attributes are written within quotes.

For instance,

<p text-align=’center’></p>

In the above example, p stands for paragraph tag, while the attribute for text-align helps to align the text based on the requirement. The given tag with the slash symbol denotes the end of an element.

HTML is always case insensitive. When codes stand written syntactically, there will be no errors. The machine understands the same very quickly too. All files that are written get stored with ‘.html’ extension. These are accessible via every text editor.

These are a few basic facts about HTML that help you gauge the overall structure and functionality of the language. It is used extensively across all pages you see on the web.  This will also help you better understand the difference between XML and HTML w3schools.

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The tags are not displayed on the webpages but affect the appearance of data on webpages. Different types of tags perform different functions. The most straightforward tags will apply the formatting to some text, such as the example given below:

To make <b> bold, text</b> the text on the web page will be displayed in bold. Similarly, to make <i> italic, text</i> will be displayed in italic.   

In this example, tags are wrapped around some text, which results in the contained text being displayed in bold and italics formats when viewed in a web browser. Similarly, different kinds of tags perform different functions, which can be seen when the web page is displayed. Learning different tags enables the creation of HTML pages.

Read: 10 Interesting HTML Project Ideas & Topics For Beginners

What is XML?

Let’s learn and understand more about XML before delving into the key points of HTML XML difference.

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a programming language created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). XML facilitates encoding documents, defined by a set of rules, in a format that can be read by both humans and machines. By using tags, XML defines the document structure, how it should be stored and transported. It enables the creation of web applications and web pages and is a dynamic language that transports data. It’s often used as the basis for many other document formats, some of which are as follows.

  • ATOM and RSS describe how reader apps handle web feeds.ATOM and RSS are two widely used XML-based formats that define how web feeds are structured and handled by reader applications. Both formats serve as standards for syndicating news articles, blogs, podcasts, and other regularly updated web content.
  • Microsoft.NET uses XML for its configuration files.XML’s structured and easily readable format makes it ideal for configuring settings, preferences, and parameters within .NET applications. 
  • XML is the basis for document structure in Microsoft Office 2007 and later versions. This is what X stands for in .DOCX word document format and is also used in PowerPoint (.PPTX files) and (.XLSX) Excel files.This shift from the earlier binary formats to XML-based structures enhanced the interoperability, extensibility, and accessibility of Office documents. XML allows for a clearer, more organized content representation within these files, enabling easier integration with other software and systems.

XML is in a textual data format and focuses on generality, simplicity, and usability across the internet. It is used for representing arbitrary data structures in web services.

Difference Between Xml And Html W3schools

Now, when you move over to compare HTML and XML (XML full form Extensible Markup Language) , remember that the latter has to do with data storage and not page display. XML or XML full form Extensible Markup Language is popularly used to transfer data. As this can be categorized as a markup language, it can be easily read by machines and humans. It is also hardware-independent. It allows the use of elements to develop a customized language for markups.

 

 XML allows users creation of tags on their own. Such tags are also self-descriptive. This is a solid answer to the most prominently asked question, What is a difference between the XML and HTML data formats? The most current version is XML 1.1 Just like HTML, the XML tags get written in angular brackets.

 

For instance,

<Data>

<Name>James Bond</Name>

<email>jamesbond123@gmail.com</email>

<Contact>+63527143278</Contact>

</Data>

XML is also used as a way to wrap up info around tags. In the example above, you will see that all personal details of James Bond stand wrapped under the Data tag. Other details are further inside in a wrapped format. This allows the transfer of data over to another medium from one medium.  XML, unlike HTML, is case-sensitive. Text editors can access, write, and modify codes, which are saved with a ‘.xml’ extension. Naturally, XML eases storing of all data since storage occurs in plain text form.

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HTML Advantages

  • HTML helps build a website’s structure and various other advantages, such as Easy to learn and use.Its intuitive tags and straightforward syntax make HTML accessible for beginners. This helps comprehend and implement basic web structures easily.
  • Supported by all browsers.It guarantees a seamless user experience regardless of the platform or device being used.
  • Being plain text, it is simple to edit.Its human-readable format allows for effortless modifications using basic text editors, empowering users to make quick changes without requiring specialized software.
  • Easy to integrate with other languages.It enables seamless integration with various scripting languages like JavaScript and CSS This facilitates the creation of dynamic and visually appealing web pages.
  • Lightweight.Its minimalistic structure contributes to faster page load times, enhancing user experience and reducing bandwidth consumption, especially for users with slower internet connections.
  • HTML is the basis of all programming languages.It is the foundational language of the web, mastering HTML provides a solid grounding for understanding more complex programming languages and concepts.
  • The text being compressible, it is fast to download.Its compressibility minimizes file sizes, allowing for quicker downloads and, subsequently, faster rendering of web pages, optimizing the browsing experience for users.

Read: HTML Project Ideas

HTML Disadvantages

  • Can create only plain and static pages.It allows limited interactivity and dynamic content without including other languages like JavaScript or server-side scripting.
  • A lot of code is required to be written to make a simple webpage.Even basic functionalities may demand extensive code blocks, leading to potential complexity and code redundancy. 
  • HTML security features aren’t very good.Vulnerabilities in HTML could expose web pages to various threats like cross-site scripting (XSS) or injection attacks if not supplemented with robust security measures.
  • Complex to write long code for making webpages.Managing extensive HTML codebases becomes challenging, leading to potential maintenance difficulties and readability issues.
  • Takes a lot of time to create a webpage.Elaborate manual coding and adjustments may prolong development timelines, impacting the efficiency and timely delivery of web projects.
  • All web pages need to be edited separately; not centralized.Lack of modularity requires individual changes to each page, making scalability and consistency harder to maintain across a website.

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XML Advantages

  • XML is extendable. 

Its adaptable structure allows custom data hierarchies and tags for diverse information models.

  • Can be read and understood by all. 

Its human-readable format fosters universal comprehension and collaboration.

  • Completely portable and also compatible with JAVA. 

It ensures seamless data exchange and integration in Java-based systems.

  • XML is a platform-independent programming language; hence can be used by any system. 

It works universally across various operating systems and software environments.

  • XML supports Unicode. 

It enables the representation of multilingual data within a single document.

  • Using XML, data can be stored and transported at any point in time without affecting data presentation. 

It allows migration and preservation of data integrity over time.

  • XML document is free of any syntax error. 

Its strict syntax rules ensure reliable and consistent data representation.

  • Data sharing between various systems is simplified using XML. 

Its standardized format streamlines communication and interoperability among diverse systems.

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XML Disadvantages

  • Compared to other text-based formats, XML is redundant and verbose. Excessive tags in XML inflate file sizes and complexity against formats like JSON or YAML.
  • When data volume is large, it results in high storage and transportation cost due to redundancy in XML syntax. 

Redundant syntax in XML significantly increases expenses for storing and transferring extensive data sets.

  • Compared to other text-based formats, XML is less readable. 

Extensive tags in XML hinder quick human interpretation compared to simpler formats like CSV or JSON.

  • Due to its lengthy nature, the XML file size is very large. 

Repetitive tags and metadata inflate file sizes compared to more compact formats like JSON or binaries.

  • XML does not support an array. 

XML doesn’t natively handle structured lists or data collections unlike JSON and similar formats.

Also Read: Top Languages For The Full Stack Developers

HTML vs XML: Key Differences

In a nutshell, the following table summarises some vital differences between HTML and XML.

HTML XML
Is a markup language. Is a standard markup language that defines other markup languages.
Is not case sensitive. Is case sensitive.
Doubles up as a presentation language. Is not a presentation language nor a programming language.
Has its own predefined tags. Tags are defined as per the need of the programmer. XML is flexible as tags can be defined when needed.
Closing tags are not necessarily needed. Closing tags are used mandatorily.
White spaces are not preserved. Capable of preserving white spaces.
Showcases the design of a web page in the way it is displayed on client-side. Enables transportation of data from database and related applications.
Used for displaying data. Used for transferring data.
Static in nature. Dynamic in nature.
Offers native support. With the help of elements and attributes, objects are expressed by conventions.
Null value is natively recognised. Xsi:nil on elements is needed in an XML instance document.
Extra application code is not needed to parse text. XML DOM application and implementation code is needed to map text back into JavaScript objects.

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XML Vs. HTML Vs. JSON

Since we have already answered the question, ‘what is the difference between XML and HTML?’, let’s compare JSON as well to make things easier.

 

Extensible Markup Language or XML, Hypertext Markup Language or HTML, and JavaScript Object Notation or JSON are all data interchange formats, but they serve different purposes and have distinct characteristics that make them suitable for various applications in the context of data representation and exchange.

 

Here’s a tabular representation of the key differences between XML vs. HTML vs. JSON:

 

Feature XML HTML JSON
Purpose Stores and transfers structured data, highly customizable Defines structure and content of web pages Lightweight data interchange format
Usage Configuration files, data exchange, document storage Web content presentation and structure Data interchange, APIs, web services
Structure Hierarchical structure with user-defined tags and attributes Predominantly pre-defined tags for content representation Key-value pairs, arrays
Extensibility Highly extensible, supports complex data structures Limited extensibility compared to XML Limited compared to XML, but flexible
Readability Contains too many many words due to tags, making it less human-readable More human-readable and user-friendly Highly readable and easy to understand
Schemas Supports schemas for defining validation rules (DTD, XSD) No native support for schemas No native support, but JSON Schema exists
Applications Data storage, configuration files, complex data structures Web content, browser rendering Data interchange, APIs, web services

Difference Between XSD and XML

We have already highlighted the key difference between HTML and XML with example. Let’s delve into another comparison where we learn about the difference between XSD and XML.

XML (Extensible Markup Language) and XSD (XML Schema Definition) are related but serve different purposes in the field of data representation and validation.

The table below compares the two:

Feature XML (Extensible Markup Language) XSD (XML Schema Definition)
Purpose Represents and transports data in a hierarchical structure Defines structure, datatypes, and validation rules for XML documents
Role Actual data representation Guidelines for validating XML data
Content Contains data in a structured format using tags and elements Defines rules and constraints for XML documents
Usage Storing, transporting, and exchanging data Validating and defining structure for XML documents
Functionality Describes data, defines elements and attributes Defines rules for correct XML structure and content validation
Syntax Uses tags, elements, and attributes Utilizes XML syntax for defining schema rules
Example <movie><title>Sample Movie</title></movie> <xs:element name=”title” type=”xs:string”/>

Relationship Between XML, HTML and SGML

Now that we know the key points of HTML and XML difference, let’s compare XML and HTML along with SGML to gain a better understanding of how these markup languages work.

XML, HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), and SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) are all markup languages that have a relationship based on their evolution and structural hierarchy.

See the table below to understand their differences comprehensively:

Feature SGML  HTML  XML 
Origin The foundational markup language Derived from SGML Derived from SGML
Purpose Framework for defining markup languages Initially for structuring web documents Data representation and interchange
Domain Broad application across industries Specific focus on web content presentation Versatile, not tied to any particular domain
Flexibility Highly flexible, allows custom markup languages Limited flexibility, predefined elements/tags Highly flexible, allows custom data structuring
Presentation vs. Data Structure, content, and presentation of documents Web content presentation within browsers Describes data structure, not focused on display
Self-Descriptiveness Less emphasis on self-descriptive markup Utilizes descriptive tags, less strict hierarchy Emphasizes self-descriptive and well-structured markup
Tag Customization Allows users to define their tags and attributes Uses predefined tags for specific document elements Allows users to create custom tags and hierarchies
Interoperability Complex, may have interoperability challenges Optimized for browser rendering and compatibility Designed for interoperability across platforms

Conclusion

HTML and XML are related to each other, where HTML displays data and describes the structure of a webpage, whereas XML stores and transfers data. HTML is a simple predefined language, while XML is a standard language that defines other languages. 

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What is HTML used for?

What is XML used for?

Data is described using XML (Extensible Markup Language). The XML standard is a versatile way to analyze information about the content and digitally share structured data over public and private networks. XML is a markup language that is based on the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), which is used to define markup languages. The primary function of XML is to develop data formats that are used to encrypt the information for documentation, transaction logs, transactions, and a variety of other types of data. XML data can be used to generate various content types by constructing dissimilar types of content based on the XML data, such as web, print, and multimedia files.

What is HTML5?

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What is HTML used for?

What is XML used for?

Data is described using XML (Extensible Markup Language). The XML standard is a versatile way to analyze information about the content and digitally share structured data over public and private networks. XML is a markup language that is based on the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), which is used to define markup languages. The primary function of XML is to develop data formats that are used to encrypt the information for documentation, transaction logs, transactions, and a variety of other types of data. XML data can be used to generate various content types by constructing dissimilar types of content based on the XML data, such as web, print, and multimedia files.

What is HTML5?

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