As we all know, the XML (Extensible Markup Language) language is so simple that anyone can master it easily. No wonder that this kind of accessibility is a key benefit of the language. Like a coin has two sides, XML has both benefits and disadvantages.
So, in this blog, we will learn about all the reasons where XML is somehow lacking. However, it won’t be easy to understand the disadvantages of XML, without knowing about it. Thus, let’s start with a brief explanation on XML for better knowledge.
Overview of XML
A markup language which we can use to create personal tags is what we call XML or Extensible Markup Language. This was created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The main purpose of its design was to overcome the limitations of HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).
Same as HTML, XML is also based on SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language). Although, XML was designed keeping the web in mind.
Here Are the 9 Major Problems With XML
All important and valuable systems use XML to perform vital functions. And, performing such a necessary function itself invites a lot of disadvantages, errors, and problems. A lot of people think Windows lacks somewhere, yet they use it because it plays a crucial role.
As a fact, performing a vital function triggers issues. That means, it is hard to get rid of issues if a thing performs an essential function. Similarly, XML also comes along with several major issues. So, here we are listing some of them:
1. XML is “Verbose”
The most prominent issues with XML is that it is verbose. Whenever you are typing in raw XML, you regularly need to type opening and closing tags. Not only this but also you need to think about tags all the time even if your editor helps you. Also, while you are just typing ordinary text structures like lists and paragraphs, you need to think about this.
However, these tags get in the way of reading or scanning of the text. Surely, the people are not going to read the raw XML; still, one has to read what they wrote, as a writer.
Indeed, one can use a specialized XML editor to avoid the tags. But then, this is another tool which is increasing complexity like to learn and use it. Though, it doesn’t completely resolve the difficulty, as we shall observe.
2. XML Needs You to Specify the Language
Computers cannot yet think for themselves and use intuition to figure out what something means in different instances instead of all the technical complexities. We need to specify the language with a declaration statement; hence, the browser understands the code that one will write.
Besides that, the computer will be unable to understand the code that you write. And, if you will forget to specify the language, the browser will have no idea which language you are using and will.
3. XML has No Semantics
There is no semantics in XML markup. Nothing in XML syntax itself has any meaning relative to the content or data it is marking up. It only has a meaning when it comes to XML’s abstract data model of attributes and elements. It is entirely up to each particular XML tagging language to define what its elements and attributes mean. However, XML does not predefine anything for them.
Moreover, it is deliberate. It was purposely designed to be semantic-free and for a good reason. As we also call it a meta-language, we use it for describing other languages. Therefore, DITA, XHTML, RDFa, DocBook, SVG, RAML, XSLT, XProc, WSDL, S1000D, and BeerXML, along with thousands more, are all markup languages with specific individual semantics and are defined in XML.
Although, if any part of the XML syntax had inherent semantics, all those languages would have to share them, too, if it were not suitable for them. Thus, XML is semantic-free.
But it shows that you have to specify all of your semantics yourself by defining elements and attributes for everything. It is difficult and tends to generate quite verbose data formats. The design goals of the XML states:
“Terseness in XML markup is of minimal importance.”
The absence of semantics itself also performs a processing overhead. You have to parse the XML syntax first to pull out the elements of the specific tagging language and then run separate application code to interpret the semantics of that language.
4. Unnested Elements or Text
It works in a hierarchical style, such as:
- The child elements need to have parents.
- And, the data strings must be between element tags.
- It is necessary that all comments are inside comment tags.
5. Open Tags
It is very important that XML asks us to close all of the tags that we open. It is because the tag demands to close it. One cannot leave that open just hanging there! Though we can get away with the occasional open tag in HTML.
Additionally, some browsers will even close tags for one when they render a page. And, the document might still parse even if not well-formed. And, at some point, XML is more particular than that. At some point, an XML document with an open tag will produce an error.
6. Lack of Applications Processing
There is no application processing system in XML; thus, it needs one. Though, there are no browsers still, which can read XML. Because in HTML, one can write up a program, and that can be read using any browser anywhere in the world. And, that’s why XML still depends on HTML to be able to be read in a browser.
Therefore, the XML documents must be converted to HTML before they are deployed. Though, it is very common to write the parsing routes in either Java applications or DHTML and parse through the XML document. However, to convert the entire document into HTML, the formatting rules can be applied by the style sheet.
Hence, XML does not have anything to support the end-user applications, and not to have any browser support is a big disadvantage. This is still in the early experimental stage and has not proved itself yet.
Additionally, as a language, XML is a bit complex. For example, XML tags are case sensitive, i.e., both root and ROOT are different. This feature of XML is also one of its disadvantages. And, too many constraints in an XML file increases the difficulty to construct the file. Maybe describing tags and building a system sounds very easy, but it's not in reality. Moreover, XML cannot synthesize all the information related to the document.
7. No Root Element
Every XML page must have a root element at the apex of the tree, since XML works in a tree structure. However, the element’s name is not essential, yet it must be there else the tags that follow will not be properly nested.
8. XML Documents are Difficult to Set Up
Generally, setting up XML documents can be difficult as well as expensive to set up. For example, for a freelancer, it is easy to write, create, and format a document or a manuscript via any of the free software available. Although the minute he/she introduces XML or starts with it, the whole process could get hard to take the document further.
9. Multiple White-Space Characters
XML represents 50 blank spaces as one space.
XML Code- Hello World!
Output- Hello World!
XML will take many blank spaces, i.e., white-space characters and compact them into one space. Ensure that XML is only about carrying the data, not about the data presented. Though, there is no connection with visual display or design. In XML code, a white space used to align text means nothing, hence if we are adding lots of extra spaces to try to dictate some visual layout or design, we are wasting our time.
Despite all of the problems, we can say XML is the way to go for developing future web applications. No wonder, it almost defines the future of web development. And, even there are no doubts regarding its performance in the world of web development, XML may fail at a format to write in; still, it has a rich toolset and support network.
We agree that XML has some drawbacks, and that needs to be looked at and improved upon. It is seen that due to these drawbacks, XML is facing resistance from some users.