What is XML? Why is it Important?
Extensible Markup Language (XML), the simplified version of SGML, is a method
used for data structuring and storage. It facilitates sharing of data across the
internet. The main advantage of this markup language is its portability across any
operating system, program, or hardware. XML is of great significance in present
times, and finds application in sectors such as medicine, banking, and e-publishing.
Litigation documents, purchase orders, and e-commerce ordering are among the
other application areas.
Importance of XML
The advantages offered by XML reveal its importance. Key advantages include:
Easy to read and understand
Facilitates the comparison and aggregation of data
Can embed multiple data types
Rapid adoption by industry
Can be opened in any text editor
Extensible and versatile
Supports all world languages
Application of XML in Healthcare
The healthcare sector has accepted XML as a standard format for data
representation, data presentation, and data exchange. This flexible format has
encouraged the transition from paper-based health records to electronic health
records. Smooth access of data, and easy retrieval and modification of files are
possible when data is stored electronically.
In any system, it is necessary to maintain records in a single, standardized format.
Sometimes it becomes necessary to convert health records from one format to
another before storage. For example, if the duty doctor transfers his prescripts to the
pharmacist in Word document format, further processing requires the file to be
converted to XML format. DOC to XML conversion can be done with the help of
application software, specially designed for the purpose.
Healthcare entities also need to process forms related to Medicare, Medicaid and
other health insurance benefits. XML conversion services are available for the
conversion of files from XML format to PDF or DBF. In XML conversion, fixed
length fields and records, comma separated values, semi-structured data, de-limited
fields and records are converted to the required size and format.
Application of XML in E-Publishing
XML has very much to do in e-publishing, where books, manuscripts, journals,
magazines and other documents are published through websites. Soft copies,
handwritten manuscripts, scanned images, pre-printed books, and PDF files are
converted to XML format for fast processing. Inputs that are available in non-editable
format are first converted to soft copies using data conversion methods. This soft
copy is then converted into XML format, according to the instructions given by the
client. The main reason behind such kind of conversion in e-publishing is that it
enables publishing with the help of style sheet language such as Cascade Style Sheet
and Extensible Style Sheet.
XML conversion can be done either in-house or by outsourcing to a service provider.
Outsourcing is often the better option, as it eliminates the overheads associated with
work management and employee hiring and also saves valuable time and effort.