Articles on DNA sites are stored on our servers in a markup language called GuideML. Before you all throw up your arms in disgust and wonder why on earth we've decided to go off and create something proprietary when everyone else is creating standards, don't worry: GuideML is actually based on XML, the latest and greatest buzzword on the scripting scene.
You see XML, the Extensible Markup Language, is a bit like a quirky HTML that you can extend by defining your own tags, and that's exactly what we've done. We store our articles in the database on our servers in this XML format, and using it we can add lots of extra information to articles that we otherwise couldn't, and can govern the look of the site more effectively. We've decided to call our XML language GuideML, because it gives us a chance to mix upper and lower case letters in one word in a way that XML doesn't, and being techies, we like that.
When you want to look at an entry on a PC, the GuideML gets translated to HTML (that your browser can display) by our GuideML parser. During this processing, any recognised GuideML tags are translated appropriately (and unrecognised ones are ignored). Effectively the format in which we store articles internally is like an enhanced HTML.
Similarly, when you look at a DNA site with a different skin (such as Classic Goo or Alabaster on h2g2), the GuideML parser translates GuideML into the correct HTML for that design. In this way you can access DNA sites in lots of different ways, and you only need to store your articles in one format - GuideML - for it to work.
Why Use GuideML?
So why should we bother with GuideML at all? The answer is two-fold. First, effects such as those generated by the <PULLQUOTE> tag, for example, are difficult to achieve in HTML, and second we can pull out extra information with GuideML tags that we can't with HTML because we're pre-processing it. A good example is the <LINK> tag in GuideML, which gets translated to an <A> tag in HTML, but not before the parser has checked to see what the destination entry of the link is so it can pull out the name of the article and display it in the 'Referenced Articles' section of the page.
We highly recommend that you write your articles in GuideML instead of plain text, as it enhances your entries considerably.
If you have any questions about, or problems with GuideML, the best place to go is the DNA GuideML Clinic.