VOTable is an XML-based format for tabular data endorsed by the International Virtual Observatory Alliance; while the tabular data which can be encoded is by design close to what FITS allows, it provides for much richer encoding of structure and metadata. TOPCAT is believed to read any table which conforms to the VOTable 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 1.3 or 1.4 specifications. This includes tables in which the cell data are included in-line as XML elements (VOTable/TABLEDATA format), or included/referenced as a FITS table (VOTable/FITS) or included/referenced as a raw binary stream (VOTable/BINARY or VOTable/BINARY2). TOPCAT does not attempt to be fussy about input VOTable documents, and it will have a good go at reading VOTables which violate the standards in various ways.
VOTable documents can have a complicated hierarchical structure, and may contain more than one actual table (TABLE element). Normally, TOPCAT will load all tables it finds in the document. If you just want to load a single table, indicate the zero-based index of the TABLE element in a breadth-first search after a '#' character at the end of the table specification. Here is an example VOTable document:
<VOTABLE> <RESOURCE> <TABLE name="Star Catalogue"> ... </TABLE> <TABLE name="Galaxy Catalogue"> ... </TABLE> </RESOURCE> </VOTABLE>If this is available in a file named "cats.xml" then loading the document in the usual way from the filestore browser or command line will open two new tables in TOPCAT. If you just want the Star Catalogue or the Galaxy Catalogue you can use the name "cats.xml#0" or "cats.xml#1" respectively.