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XML as an EDI type format...dont we need Java on each end?

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I've be re-designing our current configuration management system,taking an open source direction; Java, Apache, Tomcat, XML. I've been able to produce some well formed (but not valid...heh heh) XML files using JDOM. So I'm evangelizing to my boss, "hey look at this!" And he says "I looked at it in the IE 5 browser and it has all these tags in it whats the point?" So I try to explain and he says "I understand that this could be our universal format but we'd have to convince everyone else here to use that format."
My question is (I think): What makes XML different from any other proprietary format (even comma delimited text) if you need a program that KNOWS that format on either end of the transaction?
So I need a Java program to write it and a Java program to read it? (or some other language).
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This seems to be a duplicate posting. Refer to this URL for my reply:
With a little knowledge, a cast iron skillet is non-stick and lasts a lifetime.
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