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The specification places requirements on what an XML processor must do and not do, but the application is outside its scope.
The processor (as the specification calls it) is often referred to colloquially as an XML parser.
XML is used extensively to underpin various publishing formats.
XML is widely used in a Services Oriented Architecture (SOA).
IETF RFC:3023, now superseded by RFC:7303, gave rules for the construction of Internet Media Types for use when sending XML. Further guidelines for the use of XML in a networked context appear in RFC 3470, also known as IETF BCP 70, a document covering many aspects of designing and deploying an XML-based language.
The material in this section is based on the XML Specification.
In computing, 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.
XML includes facilities for identifying the encoding of the Unicode characters that make up the document, and for expressing characters that, for one reason or another, cannot be used directly.
XML also provides a mechanism whereby an XML processor can reliably, without any prior knowledge, determine which encoding is being used.
Encodings other than UTF-8 and UTF-16 are not necessarily recognized by every XML parser.
XML provides escape facilities for including characters that are problematic to include directly.
For example: All permitted Unicode characters may be represented with a numeric character reference.
The essence of why extensible markup languages are necessary is explained at Markup language (for example, see Markup language § XML) and at Standard Generalized Markup Language.