When first exposed to the Extensible Markup Language (XML), you might ask yourself how it fits in the overall picture of Web-related items. This is the same question developers, managers, and presidents ask, not only of their peers, but of themselves as well. Ironically, this is the same question people in those roles asked themselves years ago with other computer-based equipment such as personal computers, databases, and even Microsoft Windows.
In determining how a particular technology fills a void and solves a problem, one must first know what the problem is and why it is present. Without this basic information, trying to create the right solution is a gamble. We've all seen, and most likely worked for, companies that build a product and service just because "it's cool" or "great" without knowing and understanding the problem it was supposed to solve.
In this chapter, we will go over how XML fits into the big picture and how it can help solve problems you might be facing. We touch on how XML is able to accomplish these tasks and point you in the right direction for the next steps. This chapter will also describe the landscape for the rest of the book so that the information and examples that follow are understandable, not only from a technical perspective, but from a problem-solving one as well. Exactly how these developments affect software development will be examined. We'll also discuss how a new programming model is required to address the needs of today's computer users and how Microsoft answers those needs with the Microsoft .NET Framework.