The old days when embedded devices and factory floor machines had only minimal interaction with humans, the on/off button and little else, are gone. Today the ability to access the device from anywhere is expected. This is a significant challenge when we are sweating over every dollar required in hardware. With a little bit of knowledge and a relatively small piece of software, we can provide a Web service for this type of interaction.
Accessing Devices Using a Web Service - XML (Page 3 of 5 )
The Extensible Markup Language provides a standardized means of describing and transferring data. XML is a meta-markup language, a set of rules for creating semantic tags used to describe data. An XML element is made up of a start tag, an end tag, and data in between. The start and end tags describe the data within the tags, which is considered the value of the element. For example, the following XML element is a <director> element with the value "Matthew Dunn."
The element name "director" allows you to mark up the value "Matthew Dunn" semantically, so you can differentiate that particular bit of data from another, similar bit of data. For example, there might be another element with the value "Matthew Dunn."
Because each element has a different tag name, you can easily tell that one element refers to Matthew Dunn, the director, while the other refers to Matthew Dunn, the actor. If there were no way to mark up the data semantically, having two elements with the same value might cause confusion.
In addition, XML tags are case-sensitive, so the following are each a different element.
<City> <CITY> <city>
An element can optionally contain one or more attributes. An attribute is a name-value pair separated by an equal sign (=).
In this example, ZIP="01085" is an attribute of the <CITY> element. Attributes are used to attach additional, secondary information to an element, usually meta information. Attributes can also accept default values, while elements cannot. Each attribute of an element can be specified only once, but in any order.
A basic XML document is simply an XML element that can, but might not, include nested XML elements. For example, the XML <books> element is a valid XML document:
<books> <book isbn="0345374827"> <title>The Great Shark Hunt</title> <author>Hunter S. Thompson</author> </book> </books>
There are some things to remember when constructing a basic XML document:
All elements must have an end tag.
All elements must be cleanly nested (overlapping elements are not allowed).
All attribute values must be enclosed in quotation marks.
Each document must have a unique first element, the root node
The HTTP requests are easily made in a Web Browser. For instance to generate the version request would look like “http://hostname/Version”. If request compatibility with a full scale Web server, e.g. Microsoft IIS using ASP, is important then the request could be changed to “GET /Get.Asp?WCI=Version".