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Alpha 17 added a new RimWorld Modding feature, XML PatchOperations, that allow mods to edit specific elements of an xml def without overriding the other. This greatly reduces mod conflicts.
Here's a simple example of replacing the texture path for deep water:
<Operation Class="PatchOperationReplace"> <xpath>//TerrainDef[defName = "WaterDeep"]/texturePath</xpath> <value><texturePath>Your/Texture/Path/Here</texturePath></value> </Operation>
The best tutorial on PatchOperations created by Zhentar: Introduction to PatchOperation
You can also learn about XPaths here: XPath tutorial
Why This Is Important
Previously, modders could overwrite an XML definition for a Thing. When another Mod tried to overwrite the same Thing in XML, the previous Mod would break. This caused a Mod conflict. With PatchOperations, each mod now only changes specific elements of the XML, leaving the XML Thing untouched otherwise. This is a boon to Modders.