Currently I am in my first semester for technical writing. As such I am still pretty new at everything and really would just like to know some examples of what technical communicators use XML for. A few examples of real world XML application would be brilliant when compared to the answer of it's used for documentation. Is documentation the only use of said markup language in the technical communication world?

I've been studying the language and how it's used for a few weeks now. Unfortunately, search engines are more than happy to bring up how to use XML, which is cool. However, I find it a bit confusing when actually applying it to the working life of a technical communicator. Have any of you ever needed to use XML? If so, what did you use it for? Any help you can give me to understand this is much appreciated. Thank you.

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Authoring in an XML format is probably among the most common use of XML for technical writers. I've done it myself, though not all that much. There are many tools that you'll hear of that are "more friendly" front ends, or tool wrappers around various open and proprietary XML formats and toolkits. oXygen is an example of tool that is an editor and a wrapper around a tooklit (DITA open toolkit, and probably a host of others). 

I've also used XSL transforms to generate documents; it's very handy. I suspect that's less common among technical writers though. If you're curious about the detials, I wrote a blog post about an example of it a while back. 

Also, there are plenty of software services that share/transport XML data, so documentation is definitely not the only use of XML. In fact, it's not even the main or most common use of XML; it's a very common means of data transport in software. If you document such a project or product, knowledge of XML might be a job requirement in order to document the technology.

This is fantastic! I found that some jobs requested a knowledge of XML and couldn't figure out what the employers might want with it. Thanks for helping me out.

We author in it and then provide the transformed output, and sometimes the XML code itself, as deliverables to customers. The output is (generally) PDF or HTML. Finally, of late we've begun providing it to our software developers who parse it into the software code and for use in and display as context-sensitive help. I and others in my group have been working this way for a number of years. I can't remember the last time I used Microsoft Word or Adobe FrameMaker to produce unstructured documents as work products, and I don't want to return to those days.



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