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XML Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips and Tools [Paperback]

Michael Fitzgerald
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 15.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 Aug 2004 0596007116 978-0596007119 1

Developers and system administrators alike are uncovering the true power of XML, the Extensible Markup Language that enables data to be sent over the Internet from one computer platform to another or one application to another and retain its original format. Flexible enough to be customized for applications as diverse as web sites, electronic data interchange, voice mail systems, wireless devices, web services, and more, XML is quickly becoming ubiquitous.XML Hacks is a roll-up-your-sleeves guide that distills years of ingenious XML hacking into a complete set of practical tips, tricks, and tools for web developers, system administrators, and programmers who want to go far beyond basic tutorials to leverage the untapped power of XML.With plenty of useful real-world projects that illustrate how to define, read, create, and manipulate XML documents, XML Hacks shows readers how to put XML's power to work on the Internet and within productivity applications. Each Hack in this book can be read easily in a few minutes, saving programmers and administrators countless hours of searching for the right answer. And this is an O'Reilly Hacks book, so it's not just practical, imminently useful, and time-saving. It's also fun.From Anatomy of an XML Document to Exploring SOAP Messages XML Hacks shows you how to save time and accomplish more with fewer resources. If you want much more than the average XML user--to explore and experiment, do things you didn't know you could do with XML, discover clever shortcuts, and show off just a little--this invaluable book is a must-have.


Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (6 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596007116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596007119
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.1 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 873,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Publisher

This practical, roll-up-your-sleeves guide distills years of ingenious XML hacking into a complete set of tips, tricks, and tools for web developers, system administrators, and programmers who want to leverage the untapped power of XML. If you want more than the average XML user--to explore and experiment, discover clever shortcuts, and show off just a little (and have fun in the process)--this invaluable book is a must-have.

About the Author

Michael Fitzgerald is a freelance writer and trainer specializing in XML and related technologies. He is the author of Building B2B Applications with XML and XSL Essentials, both published by John Wiley & Sons, and has published several articles for XML.com on the O'Reilly Network.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Overview of XML 10 Dec 2005
Format:Paperback
As a Perl programmer, my first instinct when given some XML to process is to grab the appropriate Perl module (probably XML::XPath or XML::LibXML) and use that to do whatever I need to. Although that usually gets the job done, reading this book opened my eyes to a number of other XML processing tools that will sometimes be more useful than a Perl program. Actually Perl doesn't get mentioned at all in the index, whereas Java gets half a column of entries.
A lot of the book isn't aimed at the kind of person who is comfortable firing up an editor writing a program. Many of the hacks introduce ready-made applications that handle a number of different XML tasks. For example there are applications that, given an XML document, will take a first pass at creating an XML Schema or DTD for the document. This is something that would be an interesting project to write for yourself, but if you just need the schema it's nice to know that someone else has already written the application for you.
One of the most interesting chapters for me was the one about editing XML. My usual tool for that is xml-mode in Xemacs but the book introduced me to a number of other possibilities. The one that particularly caught my eye was nXML for Emacs. Unfortunately it's not currently compatible with Xemacs, so I need to try out some of the other editors that are discussed.
Like all of O'Reilly's Hacks books, this book is aimed at a very wide audience. Some of the tools are Open Source and some of them are commercial. Some of them run on only one platform and some of them will run anywhere. That has the potential to be a little frustrating when you find a tool that looks really useful, only to find out that it only runs on Windows.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very wide breadth of topics 22 Aug 2004
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Very useful if you already deal with XML and need help with occasional tricky points. While you could try to learn XML from this book, I wouldn't suggest it. Whereas, if you already have some familiarity with DTDs, schemas and other topics like SOAP and Open Office, then the book is potentially far more useful.

Perhaps the most intricate parts of the book deal with using XSLT to process XML documents. Trouble is, the XSLT usage can be very convoluted and non-obvious, unless you know it thoroughly. The hacks Fitzgerald describe that involve XSLT are neat. But, perhaps by necessity, they only hint at the depths beneath.

Overall, the book shows the ever-growing scope of XML. From interacting with SQL databases to the Microsoft Office suite, to news feeds like RSS. The book is excellent motivation for gaining fluency in XML.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do [Task] with [Other Object] 2 Oct 2004
By Jase T. Wolfe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Nothing irritates me as much as the industries gratuitous use of the word "hack". I won't say more on this topic other than to advise you that any time you see the word "hack" in this book, substitute it for "tip", "task", or "how to". Once that is understood, this title takes on a whole new feel and its usefulness is made clearer.

Anyone not already familiar with XML, its creation and use, should probably not pick up this book. However, if you are using XML documents a lot, the chances are that this book will yield a resolution method for most of the XML file transformation, modification or parsing need you may have. This method, however, typically requires the use of a third party utility, application, or script (a great many of the tips are titled "Do [something] using [something else]"). A quick flip through the table of contents reveals at least 35 different utilities required to the complete the associated tasks - which is OK if you don't mind incorporating "black box" solutions into your environment. There are also many "see this book" notations within this title as well, so if you find a solution to a need, but require more than what the tip tells you, you may need to make additional purchases.

Overall, a good read for anyone that already knows and makes heavy use of XML; you're sure to walk away with something new.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent Hacks title... 22 Aug 2004
By Thomas Duff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
O'Reilly has delivered another excellent title in the Hacks series. This time it's XML Hacks by Michael Fitzgerald. While not as "fun" as, say, the Digital Photography Hacks book, it's just as useful if working with XML is something you do as part of your IT job.

Chapter breakout: Looking At XML Documents; Creating XML Documents; Transforming XML Documents; XML Vocabularies; Defining XML Vocabularies with Schema Language; RSS and Atom; Advanced XML Hacks

For those not familiar with the Hacks series, each book contains 100 tips, techniques, and plain cool things you can do with the technology. Some will be things you already know, some will be things you aren't quite ready for yet, and others will be ones that you just can't wait to try out as they solve a problem you've been living with for far too long.

There were two areas I liked in this book. The Creating and Transforming chapters introduce a number of software packages, both commercial and free, that can help you manage the process of working with your XML files in something more elegant than Notepad. The RSS and Atom chapter is also cool as I use RSS in my blog feed, and this will help me understand and enhance that feed.

I've yet to find a bad Hacks title, and this is no exception. Very good material.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Overview of XML 10 Dec 2005
By David Cross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As a Perl programmer, my first instinct when given some XML to process is to grab the appropriate Perl module (probably XML::XPath or XML::LibXML) and use that to do whatever I need to. Although that usually gets the job done, reading this book opened my eyes to a number of other XML processing tools that will sometimes be more useful than a Perl program. Actually Perl doesn't get mentioned at all in the index, whereas Java gets half a column of entries.

A lot of the book isn't aimed at the kind of person who is comfortable firing up an editor writing a program. Many of the hacks introduce ready-made applications that handle a number of different XML tasks. For example there are applications that, given an XML document, will take a first pass at creating an XML Schema or DTD for the document. This is something that would be an interesting project to write for yourself, but if you just need the schema it's nice to know that someone else has already written the application for you.

One of the most interesting chapters for me was the one about editing XML. My usual tool for that is xml-mode in Xemacs but the book introduced me to a number of other possibilities. The one that particularly caught my eye was nXML for Emacs. Unfortunately it's not currently compatible with Xemacs, so I need to try out some of the other editors that are discussed.

Like all of O'Reilly's Hacks books, this book is aimed at a very wide audience. Some of the tools are Open Source and some of them are commercial. Some of them run on only one platform and some of them will run anywhere. That has the potential to be a little frustrating when you find a tool that looks really useful, only to find out that it only runs on Windows. Fortunately the authors are aware of this problem and make a real effort to present tools that run on as wide a range of platforms as possible. If one hack presents a tool that only runs on Windows then you can be sure that the next hack has a similar tool that runs somewhere else.

The audience is diverse along other dimensions too. There are hacks aimed at people who will just want to save a Word document in DocBook format (hint: use OpenOffice) and at the other end of the spectrum there are hacks aimed at people who want to create SOAP services. There are hacks aimed at all levels of producing and using XML.

It's an inevitable consequence of this type of book that not everyone is going to find all of it useful. But the authors are obviously experts in their field and they explain themselves very clearly. I thought I knew a lot about processing XML but I discovered a lot of new and interesting things from this book. If you want a good overview of the various ways that XML can be useful to you, then this book would be a very good start.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful tips for every XML task you're likely to want to do 6 Oct 2005
By A. Avrashow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is my favorite O'Reilly book. The scope covers everything you can imagine for working with XML. I really like the depth of information in every hack ('hack' in the sense of ways to get something done). Whenever a tool is mentioned, there is often additional info about related tools that do similar functionality and why you would choose one or the other. Each hack is like a well-crafted short story.

At first I glanced through the book. It's amazing how people have solved so many common tasks to make working with XML automated and flexible. It's fun to look at the titles of each hack and see the illustrations. I found myself saying "That's a technique that'll come in handy someday."

Then I found myself marking up the tools and applications mentioned that did nifty things that will be good quivers in my XML toolkit.

Finally this book provided some invaluable techniques when I needed to do a few one-time XML tasks. I needed to extract information from a humongous XML file. I was able to extract the text of all <Description> elements into a nice tidy HTML page.

Another time I created a tree diagram with custom bullet list symbols for the two types of items in the tree using CSS to format the XML (I'd heard it was possible, but didn't know how to do it).

And if you're looking for a quick explanation and examples for some XML technology, like XQuery, XSLT, SVG, XPointer, XLINK, RSS, some recommendations on commercial and free XML tools, XForms, XHTML, working with Microsoft Office documents as XML or for importing into Word or Excel and many more, then I recommend getting this useful, information-packed and handy reference book.

You'll grab it off the shelf whenever you want to do something efficiently in XML without reinventing the wheel.
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