XML, a subset of SGML (Standard Generalised Markup Language), is a system for defining and collaborating on Web documents. The W3C's recommendation process is intended to suggest a specification is stable and has been examined with members' approval.
XML is the brainchild of the W3C XML Working Group, which includes Microsoft, Netscape, Sun, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Adobe as members.
"The commitment of strong competitors such as Sun, HP, Microsoft, and Netscape to work together on an open standard for information exchange has been a remarkable demonstration of cooperation for the common good," said Jon Bosak, Sun's online information technology architect and chair of the W3C XML Working Group.
"XML represents a key technical advance in Web technology, it enables secure electronic commerce on an expanded scale thus ushering in a new generation of distributed applications. XML represents a fundamental shift in the relationship between software producers and consumers... an open, human-readable format that does for data what Java does for programs. Together XML and Java provide a platform- and vendor-independent environment that liberates users from proprietary software and hardware architectures. Because it advances document delivery as much as data exchange, XML will alter the competitive landscape not only on the World Wide Web but in electronic and print publishing as well."