XML.com FAQs > A. General questions
Question:  A.1 What is XML?

XML is the Extensible Markup Language. It is designed to improve the functionality of the Web by providing more flexible and adaptable information identification.

It is called extensible because it is not a fixed format like HTML (a single, predefined markup language). Instead, XML is actually a `metalanguage' --a language for describing other languages--which lets you design your own customized markup languages for limitless different types of documents. XML can do this because it's written in SGML, the international standard metalanguage for text markup systems (ISO 8879).

This FAQ is from The XML FAQ, maintained by Peter Flynn