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Learning XML
Learning XML (Paperback)
by Erik T. Ray (Author)
(38 customer reviews)    

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Editorial Reviews
Although Learning XML covers XML rather broadly, it nevertheless presents the key elements of the technology with enough detail to familiarize the reader with this crucial markup language. This guide is brief enough to tackle in a weekend.

Author Erik T. Ray begins with an excellent summary of XML's history as an outgrowth of SGML and HTML. He outlines very clearly the elements of markup, demystifying concepts such as attributes, entities, and namespaces with numerous clear examples. To illustrate a real-world XML application, he gives the reader a look at a document written in DocBook--a publicly available XML document type for publishing technical writings--and explains the sections of the document step by step. A more simplified version of DocBook is used later in the book to illustrate transformation--a powerful benefit of XML.

The all-important Document Type Definition (DTD) is covered in depth, but the still-unofficial alternative, XML Schema, is only briefly addressed. The author makes liberal use of graphics, tables, and code to demonstrate concepts along the way, keeping the reader engaged and on track. Ray also goes deep into some discussion of programming XML utilities with Perl.

Learning XML is a very readable introduction to XML for readers with existing knowledge of markup and Web technologies. It meets its goals very well--to deliver a broad perspective of XML and its potential. --Stephen W. Plain

Topics covered:

  • XML overview
  • XPointer
  • XLink
  • Presentation with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Document Type Definitions (DTDs)
  • XML Schemas
  • Transformation with XSLT
  • Internationalization
  • Simple API for XML (SAX)

Book Description
The arrival of support for XML--the Extensible Markup Language--in browsers and authoring tools has followed a long period of intense hype. Major databases, authoring tools (including Microsoft's Office 2000), and browsers are committed to XML support. Many content creators and programmers for the Web and other media are left wondering, "What can XML and its associated standards really do for me?" Getting the most from XML requires being able to tag and transform XML documents so they can be processed by web browsers, databases, mobile phones, printers, XML processors, voice response systems, and LDAP directories, just to name a few targets.

In Learning XML, the author explains XML and its capabilities succinctly and professionally, with references to real-life projects and other cogent examples. Learning XML shows the purpose of XML markup itself, the CSS and XSL styling languages, and the XLink and XPointer specifications for creating rich link structures.

The basic advantages of XML over HTML are that XML lets a web designer define tags that are meaningful for the particular documents or database output to be used, and that it enforces an unambiguous structure that supports error-checking. XML supports enhanced styling and linking standards (allowing, for instance, simultaneous linking to the same document in multiple languages) and a range of new applications.

For writers producing XML documents, this book demystifies files and the process of creating them with the appropriate structure and format. Designers will learn what parts of XML are most helpful to their team and will get started on creating Document Type Definitions. For programmers, the book makes syntax and structures clear It also discusses the stylesheets needed for viewing documents in the next generation of browsers, databases, and other devices.

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Product Details
  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly; 1 edition (February 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596000464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596000462
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: based on 38 reviews.
  • Sales Rank: #507,457 in Books (See Top Sellers in Books)
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  • Also Available in: Hardcover  |  Paperback (Illustrated) |  All Editions

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Look Inside This Book
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover

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First tag: webdev (Andrej Gregov on Nov 11, 2005)
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39 of 51 people found the following review helpful:

not for developers, July 4, 2003
Reviewer:Digital Puer "digital_puer" (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
The first few chapters of this book on the basics of XML are good, but stay away if you're a software developer wanting to learn about XML in depth. Even if you're an XML author, you will find this book lacking in the latter chapters. Almost all the discussion is extremely general and theoretical. Occasionally the author sprinkles in a few fucntional XML snippets, but they are not nearly enough. Furthermore, there are only about a dozen complete examples of functional XML available in the tar/zip file available online at O'Reilly.

The paucity of examples was particularly frustrating in the XSLT chapter. By its very nature, XSLT screams out for illustrative examples showing 'before' and 'after' transformations, but the author provides very few such examples.

Another thing that really irked me was the condescending writing style of the author. Here's an example from Ch. 4 on CSS:

"A CSS stylesheet is a collection of rules... An analogy for this process is painting-by-numbers. In this activity, you purchase a painting kit that comes with paints..."

Really now! This style of writing is not necessary and is frankly offensive. XML inherently is not a beginner's topic; a reader who picks up this book is most likely an IT manager or a developer and does not need to be talked-down upon.

If you're a java developer, I suggest you take a look at "Processing XML with Java" by Harold.

74 of 80 people found the following review helpful:

Suggested New Title: Anatomy of XML, March 2, 2003
Reviewer:Jase T. Wolfe (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
By page 177 I realized that I was never going to touch a keyboard while reading this book. I can't speak for everyone, but when I pick up a book expecting to learn the topic, I need theory, reference, examples and structured "assignments". This title offers the first three, but I never get to apply what I am learning hands-on in a graduated fashion. When I am finished, I have little more than the ability to recognize the components of XML. Just because you can recognize all the foods in a grocery store, and know the origins of all the spices on your spice rack, doesn't mean you can cook; the same principal applies here. I am fully aware that XML is comprised of many different elements, and many of the XML development environments are very expensive, but many are free and could have been used to teach the concept clearer.

The title also has many errors, so the errata list on the publisher's web site is important. The book does not include any of the source code, so if you want that, you have to download it. Even then, it is not complete and file titles in the book do not always match the provided code file names.

If you are looking for a hands-on book to learn XML, this isn't the title. If you know XML and are looking for a reference, again - not for you. However, if you are interested in it from more of an administrative overview position, then the title is worth the read. It can provide many answers and give a good base of information without the need to actually write any XML on your own.

Customer Reviews
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Great Book for Learning XML, March 2, 2007
Reviewer:M. Marshall (Eureka, CA) - See all my reviews
This book taught me a lot about XML and how it is used in the digital publishing world. XML is not limited to web sites and is a great resource for businesses institutions and other publishing needs where a common format is needed for each and every document.

I recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more about XML and how it is used.

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Not a Standalone book, good otherwise, December 10, 2006
Reviewer:Scott Colson "Theory Junkie, web developer, all around gentleman." (Madison, WI) - See all my reviews
1. YOU WILL NOT TOUCH A KEYBOARD USING THIS BOOK, IT DOESN'T NOT WALK THROUGH EXAMPLES- for those books, try "XML step by step" by Young (Microsoft), and for more advanced, "XML in Action - Web Technology" by Pardi.

2. THIS BOOK IS GREAT: because it teaches in a fundamentally different way. Most of what we see of XML is tags, attributes, the structure of the data in the elements, etc. But this book focus on the DOM. This crucial focus helps understand XML with its uses, XPointer, and transformation.

3. If you want to do a lot with XML, beyond RSS feeds, buy this book along with a walkthrough, like the books listed above.

0 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

bad book, too much nonsense, October 5, 2006
Reviewer:Fei Li - See all my reviews
full of nonsense in whole book.
For example, xml schemas chapter is from page 108 to 164 about 60 pages, but realy useful w3c xml schema only take less 8 pages, others, useless, forget them.
Hi my dear author,
you have a lot of work to do, from simple to complex, how can you just give a long example and finish. Do you know "learning" means ***FOCUSING ON CORE***

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

The book is exactly right for an introduction., September 5, 2006
Reviewer:Fred Mertz "Fred Mertz" (Paterson, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I am amplifying a prior review (Daniel McKinnon's) in order to balance a misperception as to the intent and execution of the book.

This is not XSLT or XPath or "DOM processing in Firefox" or "node traversals with Java", it's an introduction to XML. If you need a solid foundation upon which to base further study, I wholly recommend the book. Unlike other reviewers, I am not in search of the One Canonical Tome on a subject, because I know it doesn't exist in any genre. My needs for learning XML were basic and required a grasp of fundamentals, which you will achieve with this work.

It also has numerous points of interest that a reader can use to further a study of specific issues, such as processing XML using a scripting language, or weighing a schema for implementation, and so forth. As a result, the reader is well-armed to continue learning on the specifics that are of personal interest.

Ir requires a third edition to correct errors and update content, but that doesn't diminish the value of the book for anyone who wants to comprehend what XML is and is not, and what the major issues and challenges are.


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