What is an XML file? The in-depth guide
When working on video projects, you may have come across XML file format. XML files are useful, but if you don’t know the uses of XML, or how to edit XML files, they can be quite confusing.
This article will answer all your questions about the .xml file format. Here we’ll uncover the XML meaning, what XML is used for, how to view XML file types, how to edit XML files, and more.
We’ll also dive into how XML files are used in video. We’ll learn what an XML video file is and what the uses of XML files in video editing are! Check out this video for a quick summary, or keep scrolling to learn even more:
XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. An XML file is a markup file that is designed to transport and store data.
An XML file consists of text and tags. Unlike other markup files such as HTML, tags are not predetermined – the user defines their own tags.
What are xml files used for or What is an XML file used for?
XML files are used to store small data files in lieu of a database. They make it very easy to transport data between systems. For example XML files can be used to transport data from a PC to a Mac.
Another advantage of XML files is that data is cached locally – there's no need to be continually accessing a server. This is advantageous for mobile device users. Data can be cached on the user’s device until they access the internet and the data can be stored on a server.
What does an xml file look like
On a basic level, an XML file is structured quite simply. The first line is always a declaration which is then followed by a series of root nodes, parent nodes and child nodes that contain text data.
Here is a sample structure:
Where is xml used
XML format files are used in many different situations. The two most common instances are:
- When information needs to be stored locally without accessing a server.
- When information needs to be transported between two separate systems or applications.
What type of file is xml?
An XML file is a markup file. A markup file is a type of file that is designed to make it possible to annotate text files in a way that is distinguishable from the content of the text file. The annotations will often be for formatting the text, so they won’t be visible when the document is processed for display.
XML files are not video files, they only ever contain text. However, they can be used to transfer video editing information between NLEs such as Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro, or DaVinci Resolve. In this case the text data contained in the XML file acts as a pointer, providing information about the video editing project such as edit locations.
If you want to learn how to do this then check out this very short guide on our YouTube channel.
Are XML files important for video?
If you are working on an edit that has been started in a different NLE to the one you use, then XML files are really important for moving the edit to your preferred software whilst retaining all the previous work done in the other editor.
Another way that XML files are used in video is in camera. Some cameras will save an XML file alongside each video file they create. This XML file contains metadata which can be very useful for editors who need extra information about a particular shot.
If your camera creates an XML file with each video file, then it’s worth keeping them. They often contain metadata such as the camera settings you’ve used, the camera model, the date and time of the shot, and more.
XML files work by locally storing text data. They contain two types of text: the actual information that is being stored; and tags which help to categorise the text data.
When you view an XML file the tags are invisible, they are used to present the data being stored in the XML file properly.
XML is a good file format to use in several instances. A few possible causes include:
- When moving a video editing project between programs.
- When transferring data sets between systems (e.g from Mac to PC).
- For caching data on a mobile device when not connected to the internet. Information can be stored locally until an internet connection is established.
- For caching data on devices (such as cameras) that are never connected to the internet. These devices can’t store information on servers so they must store data locally.
Which program you use to open an XML file depends on whether you want to view or edit it. Check out the below section to learn which programs are best for each task.
Here’s how you can edit and view XML files.
How do I open an XML file?
If you wish to view an xml file, a quick and easy way to do it is with Code Beautify’s XML viewer. Simply copy in the text from your XML and view the file in display mode. Alternatively you can open an XML file with a browser such as Chrome, Safari or Firefox.
How do I open an XML video file?
There is no such thing as an XML video file. XML files are always text based markdown files. They can be used to store information about an accompanying video file. In these cases you don’t need to open the file, instead your NLE or media player will automatically open and read any XML files associated with a video clip and extract any necessary data.
Let’s look at how to convert an XML file into a different format, and how to convert a file into the XML format.
How to convert xml file
The quickest and easiest way to convert an XML file into a different format is to use an online converter. Here are a few options to convert an XML file into HTML, CSV, PDF and XSD.
How to convert to xml file
Here are some useful online converters that you can use to convert XLS/XLSX, SQL, CSV and JSON files to the XML format.
Now you should have a good basic understanding of XML documents, what they’re used for and how to view and edit them. If you want to learn more about different video file types and how to convert them, then we have several guides on our blog.