XML is a de facto standard for encoding and sharing data*, and XPath is the de facto standard for referencing objects within an XML-structure. In my experience, XML has been underused in FileMaker because of the lacking functionality to process it correctly and reliably.
Agreed JSON is an increasingly important technology, nonetheless XML is still a wide-spread industry standard and is not going to be going away any time soon.
In the current situation:
- there are no native XPath functions in the current shipping product (fm14)
- dependence on 3rd party plugins has proven to be unreliable (e.g. discontinued fmNX Web plugin, slow release of 64bit fm14 plugins, poor XPath support in other plugins)
- currently available custom function solutions are limited and erroneous
- string-processing of XML is incapable of handling all the complexities of XML (Elements + attributes + namespaces + white space + CDATA + character encoding + character entities: named, decimal, hexadecimal)
Thus: FileMaker developers need stable XPath functions in order to be able to support and process XML reliably.
- It will be far easier to extract data out of XML-structures.
- XML will become more attractive as a data transport mechanism (existing XML functionality will benefit)
- Less Plugin use / less plugins to install / easier deployment of solutions
- Less custom functions and more time to spend on programming the business relevant functions
- Simpler and more reliable code
- Less errors in interfaces which use XML
- Solutions will be FileMaker update safe, i.e. not break when a new version is released
- Importing & processing XML files
- Extracting XML data out of industry standard XML-structures:
- Processing Webservices and SOAP
- Passing Script parameters as XML
- Extracting data out of the DDR
- Analyzing the FileMaker fmxmlsnippet clipboard
- Processing results of GetAsCSS( $Text )
- Analyzing SVG images or XHTML5