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Beginning XML

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In this case, you also have the option of writing this element using the special empty element syntax:




This is the one case where a start-tag doesn't need a separate end-tag, because they are both combined together into this one tag. In all other cases, they do.


Recall from our discussion of element names that the only place we can have a space within the tag is before the closing ">". This rule is slightly different when it comes to empty elements. The "/" and ">" characters always have to be together, so you can create an empty element like this:


<middle />


but not like these:


<middle/ >

<middle / >


Empty elements really don't buy yoult;/parody> syntax to just <parody/>.


Interestingly, nobody in the XML community seems to mind the empty element syntax, even though it doesn't add anything to the language. This is especially interesting considering the passionate debates that have taken place on whether attributes are really necessary.


One place where empty elements are very often used is for elements that have no (or optional) PCDATA, but instead have all of their information stored in attributes. So if we rewrote our <name> example without child elements, instead of a start-tag and end-tag we would probably use an empty element, like this:


<name first="John" middle="Fitzgerald Johansen" last="Doe"/>


Another common example is the case where just the element name is enough; for example, the HTML <BR> tag might be converted to an XML empty element, such as the XHTML <br/> tag. (XHTML is the latest "XML-compliant" version of HTML.)


XML Declaration

It is often very code is a one-to-one mapping between a set of characters and the corresponding numbers to represent those characters. A character encoding is the method used to represent the numbers in a character code digitally, (in other words how many bytes should be used for each number, etc.)


One character code/encoding that you might have come

How It Works

With our new XML declaration, any XML parser can tell right away that it is indeed dealing with an XML document, and that document is claiming to conform to version 1.0 of the XML specification.


Furthermore, the document indicates that it is encoded using the windows-1252 character encoding. Again many XML parsers don't understand windows-1252, so you may have to play around with the encoding. Luckily, the parser used by Internet Explorer 5 does understand windows-1252, so if you're viewing the examples in IE5 you can leave the XML declaration as it is here.


In addition, because the Standalone Document Declaration declares that this is a standalone document, the parser knows that this one file is all that it needs to fully process the information.


And finally, because "Dare to be Stupid" is not a parody of any particular song, the <parody> element has been changed to an empty element. That way we can visually emphasize the fact that there is no information there. Remember, though, that to the parser <parody/> is exactly the same as <parody></parody>, which is why this part of our document looks the same as it did in our earlier screenshots.

©1999 Wrox Press Limited, US and UK.

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