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Subject: What is Xml ?

Please can someone direct me to an authoritative explanation of what constitutes a valid XML file ?
I've been provided with some "XML" files which are a bit like this :
<category id="information">
 <section id="general">
  <element id="fileinfo"
<category id="device">
 <section id="Status">
  <element id="1" />
  <element id="2" />
They are described as "XML", together with a note that "... file can be created using any XML editor providing the format and tags required are used", though I get various errors from emacs+nxml-mode, XmlMind and Serna.
I think that they are not well-formed, on account of having two "root nodes".
I'm also a bit surprised by the lack of the usual version, encoding and standalone attributes in the xml PI, though I suspect they are actually optional.
And I've just found that it starts with (hex) ef bb bf, before the "<?" - is that a byte-order mark ?  Or just another non-standardness ?
I will need to pass this back to the originators so that they can either :
1.  Change their software to produce/use real XML.
2.  Change their documentation to refer to "XML-like" or similar.
In the meantime I'll need to do some sort of processing to get it into a form that I can process.
Blue line

Richard Kerry

BNCS Engineer


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