There are a couple of problems with creating an XML reference book. For one thing, XML is by definition extensible, so unlike HTML the available tags are not fixed but defined by the author of a DTD (Document Type Definition) or XML schema. The other issue is that the XML specification itself is under revision. Even so, a concise presentation of XML rules and terms makes a valuable guide. The beauty of these O'Reilly pocket reference books is that they provide notes and examples along with reference information, making this useful for learning as well as information.
The book has four main sections. The first covers XML itself, showing the rules that a well-formed XML document has to follow, including legal XML instructions and rules for elements and attributes. Next comes the DTD (Document Type Definition), with its own rules for declaring elements, entities and attributes. The third part is about XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language), and includes several pages of explanation about how XSL works, as well as a list of XSL elements. Finally there is XLink and XPointer, which define how you set up links between XML documents, or between XML and HTML documents. There is also an index.
There are a few gaps here. For example, it would be nice to see coverage of XML Schema, an alternative to DTDs and much used by Microsoft in its XML implementation. Even so, in just over 100 pages, this pocket reference does a great job in capturing the essence of what you need to know to author well-formed XML documents. --Tim Anderson
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Robert Eckstein, an editor at O'Reilly, works mostly on Java books (notably Java Swing) and is also responsible for the XML Pocket Reference and Webmaster in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition. In his spare time he has been known to provide online coverage for popular conferences. He also writes articles for JavaWorld magazine. Robert holds bachelor's degrees in computer science and communications from Trinity University. In the past, he has worked for the USAA insurance company and more recently spent four years with Motorola's cellular software division. He is the co-author of Using Samba.
Michel Casabianca is an independent XML and Java developer.