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Beginning XML (Programmer to Programmer) Paperback – 18 May 2007

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From the Back Cover

The perfect resource for beginning XML programmers, this guidebook clearly shows you what XML is, how to use it, and what technologies surround it. The authors build on the strengths of previous editions while covering the latest changes in the XML landscape such as XQuery, RSS and Atom, and Ajax. The most recent specifications are presented along with best practices to follow when developing XML solutions.

The fourth edition will help you quickly progress from XML basics to more advanced programming techniques. You′ll delve into the state of the art for XML and databases, discover how to query XML information, retrieve data, and create new XML documents. In addition, you′ll learn how to publish information on the web, design dynamic interactive graphics, and make interactive forms. You′ll be able to apply this information to build robust applications in real–world situations.

What you will learn from this book

  • Specific rules to follow for constructing XML
  • How to create and use different XML vocabularies

  • Steps for extracting information and converting it to HTML or other formats

  • Strategies for storing and retrieving XML documents

  • How to manipulate XML using DOM and SAX

  • Tips for improving communication with XML by using Ajax techniques, RSS, and SOAP

  • How to use CSS to add visual styles to your XML documents

Who this book is for

This book is for any programmer interested in learning how to use XML. Some knowledge of web programming or data exchange techniques is helpful but not necessary.

Wrox Beginning guides are crafted to make learning programming languages and technologies easier than you think, providing a structured, tutorial format that will guide you through all the techniques involved.

About the Author

David Hunter is a Senior Technical Consultant for CGI, a full–service IT and business process services partner. Providing technical leadership and guidance for solving his clients′ business problems, he is a jack–of–all–trades and master of some. With a career that has included design, development, support, training, writing, and other roles, he has had extensive experience building scalable, reliable, enterprise–class applications. David loves to peek under the hood at any new technology that comes his way, and when one catches his fancy, he really gets his hands dirty. He loves nothing more than sharing these technologies with others.

Jeff Rafter is an independent consultant based in Redlands, California. His focus is one emerging technology and web standards, including XML and validation. he currently works with Baobab Health Partnership with a focus on improving world health.

Joe Fawcett ( started programming in the 1970s and worked briefly in IT when leaving full–time education. he then pursued a more checkered career before returning to software development in 1994. In 2003 he was awarded the title of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in XML for community contributions and technical expertise; he has subsequently been re–awarded every year since. Joe currently works in London and is head of software development for FTC Kaplan Ltd., a leading international provider of accountancy and business training.

Eric van der Vlist is an independent consultant and trainer. His domains of expertise include web development and XML technologies. He is the creator and main editor of, the main site dedicated to XML technologies in French, the lead author of Professional Web 2.0 Programming, the author of the O′Reilly animal books XML Schema and RELAX NG and a member or the ISO DSDL ( working group focused on XML schema languages. he is based in Paris and can be reached at , or meet him at one of the many conferences where he presents his projects.

Danny Ayers is a freelance developer and consultant specializing in cutting–edge web technologies. His blog ( tends to feature material relating to the Semantic Web and/or cat photos.

Jon Duckett co–authored Wrox Press′ first book on XML in 1998. After 4 years with Wrox in the UK, Jon is now a freelance web developer working with clients in the UK, US and Australia, and has co–authored 10 programming books.

Andrew Watt has been programming for 20 years, including 10 years work with the Web. He has several books in the areas of XML and XSLT to his credit and is well known for his work on

Linda McKinnon has more than 10 years of experience as a successful trainer and network engineer, assisting both private and public enterprises in network architecture design, implementation, system administration, and RP procurement. She is a renowned mentor and has published numerous Linux study guide for Wiley Press and Gearhead Press.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
An XML book to start with 18 Dec. 2008
By Tom Iancu - Published on
Format: Paperback
Hello everybody.
Having more than 14 yrs experience in all kind of IT techies, I always had a problem when it came to XML: too big of a confusing terminology and concepts that were difficult to understand. Aside from being a markup language used for structuring data I did not know too much. I plunged into all sort of documentation available on the web, browsed a book or two either form my friends' bookshelves or in a bookshop, but stil questions like "what is the difference between a DTD and a schema" or "should I use URL or URN for a namespace and, in the end, what is a namespace" left unanswered.
Two days ago I had the opportunity to borrow this book from a friend of mine, old-time programmer and IT PM, and I couldn't left it out of my hands.
So, first advice, start with this book if you want to understand basics of XML.
It starts from the scratch, but assuming you have some knowledge about markup, web technologies and, especially, some more insight into HTML and text tagging, but, otherwise, the content is so well written and refined that you will not have any problem in understanding the concepts.
You need a good XML editor. I downloaded XMLSpy trial version from Alltova but I think any good XML editor will do. You will need it to write down and test the collection of examples that the book is filled with.

After you got your XML editor, you may start reading the book, "pencil in hand" to try all the examples provided. By the way, I reached page 183 (out of 1000+) and no typos encountered yet. The code within the examples is very well written, no mistakes up to now.

Since I read only a quarter of the information, I will stick to the chapters I went through wo far.

Introduction and Chapter 1: You will be introduced in the universe of files and information contained in files and a brief - but solid - history of markup is presented, altogether with the rationale behind SGML and other technologies. Then you will be smoothly transported to the world of XML and important questions like "what is XML?", "what does XML offer?", "what is a hierarchy and what is useful for?" etc., will be answered. Then you will be presented the origins of XML standards and, very important, the uses of XML, situations when it is not indicated, advantages and disadvantages. The information is very clear, efficiently structured, no redundancy in phrases and exact, refined wording is used throughout the paragraphs. Do not skip this introductions because here are presented very important concepts that will help you understand future information. The introduction is where most readers should begin. The first three chapters introduce some of the goals of XML as well as the specific rules for constructing XML. Once you have read this part you should be able to read and create your own XML documents. In chapter 1, the authors cover some basic concepts, introducing the fact that XML is a markup language (a bit like HTML) whereby you can define your own elements, tags, and attributes (known as a vocabulary). You'll see that tags have no presentation meaning--they're just a way to describe the structure of the data.

Chapter 2 - Well Formed XML - gives you a very solid understanding of rules of writing XML code, including attributes, elements, comments, XML declarations, illegal characters, etc. In addition to explaining what well-formed XML is, it offers a look at the rules that exist (the XML 1.0
and 1.1 Recommendations) for naming and structuring elements--you need to comply with these rules in order to produce well-formed XML.

Chapter 3 - This chapter was invaluable for me because I have - FINALLY! - understood what a namespace is in XML. Because XML tags can be made up, one needs to avoid name conflicts when sharing documents. Namespaces
provide a way to uniquely identify a group of tags, using a URI. This chapter explains how to use namespaces. Excellent info !

Chapter 4 - Another invaluable chapter, for me, about Document Type Definitions (DTDs). With this chapter, you will be introduced to part II of the book, called "validation". This Part of the book introduces you to DTDs, XML Schemas, and RELAX NG: three languages that define custom XML vocabularies. It will show you how to utilize these definitions to validate your XML documents. Thus, you will understand immediately that DTDs, schemas and compact syntaxes are used for XML validation. In addition to the well-formedness rules you learn in Part I, you will most likely want to learn how to create and use different XML vocabularies. In chapter 4, you will learn how you can specify how an XML document should be structured, and even provide default values, using Document Type Definitions (DTDs). If XML conforms to the associated DTD, it is known as valid XML. This chapter covers the basics of using DTDs.

Chapter 5 - XML Schemas - A very interesting discussion about differences between DTDs and Schemas used for XML validation. This is crucial for you to grasp understanding of coding context when DTDs are more indicated than Schemas and vice-versa. XML Schemas, like DTDs, enable you to define how a document should be structured. In addition to
defining document structure, they enable you to specify the individual datatypes of attribute values and element content (see chapter 2 for these concepts). The most important difference: they are a more powerful alternative to DTDs.

So this is where I reached by now.
However, based on the quality of information I encountered so far, I doubt I will experience any unpleasant surprises regarding the quality of the content in the remainder of the book. However, I would strongly recommend this book for beginners into XML or for those that have difficulties in understanding the concepts related to XML. And don't forget to get and install a good XML editor.

Five stars !

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Horribly Written, Difficult to Follow 15 Dec. 2009
By Joe Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was used as the text book for a college "Introduction to XML" class I just finished. This being my first and only exposure to XML, I have to say it is horribly written. The information is incredibly disjointed and hard to follow. Yes, there are ample examples of code in the book, but not much explanation of why you have to do certain things. Some key terms were used throughout the book without ever giving a clear explanation, or any explanation at all, of what they meant. Maybe it's because there are eight authors and they didn't talk to each other when they were writing it, I don't know. I've taken three college programming classes in the recent past, up to intermediate Java programming, and have never had as much difficulty understanding a text book. I would not recommend this book to anyone, although it's admittedly the only XML book I've read, so I really don't know how it compares to others.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Wordy and Badly Written and Organized 21 May 2009
By Robert - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've never read a tech book that contained so much useless prose. The authors will often spend pages and pages explaining the simplest concepts, thus making things seem more complicated than need be. Yet they will often gloss over complicated subjects in a few sentences. And it's probably one of the worst organized manuals ever. The authors take the approach, "lets show them how this new concept looks when completely finished, we'll summarize the key concepts (often inserting critical info only found on that page), and then we'll go in-depth later in the chapter (of course omitting the critical info mentioned earlier)." OMG this is frustrating. This makes for a structure where topic A may have some coverage on page 50 -- then more topics -- critical info on topic A -- more topics -- stuff we forgot to include earlier on topic A... you get the picture. I realize a completely linear approach may be impossible, but come on! This book's only redeeming feature is the fact it touches on so many XML concepts.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent and Comprehensive 5 Jan. 2010
By Klod - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the best comprehensive introduction to XML (XML, namespaces, schemas, XSL and styles, XML in databases, XML web services, and more). I checked over 10 similar books, but this one surpass the value of any of them. But be aware that this book is an introduction (Well, maybe more than an introduction). It will be necessary other more specific material for advanced concepts (the 10% of other topics that you will need once in a lifetime). I recommend this book as a starter for XML.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Very Thorough and Useful Resource 19 Nov. 2011
By Robert Hieger - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book will serve as a very good resource for any budding web developer. Among its strong points are the fact that several important technologies such as XPath, XQuery, XSLT and SAX are covered giving very usable tools to beginners.

Among the weaker points for the book are its presentation. The choice of body text font is so small as to be hard on the eyes of all but the youngest readers. I do not suggest Braille text, but striking a balance at a somewhat larger font for body text is a worthy trade-off, despite the additional pages that would result. It is in my opinion more important to foster learning at a slightly greater expense than to make a book less accessible.
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