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XPath and XPointer: Locating Content in XML Documents [Paperback]

John Simpson
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Aug 2002 0596002912 978-0596002916 1

Referring to specific information inside an XML document is a little like finding a needle in a haystack: how do you differentiate the information you need from everything else? XPath and XPointer are two closely related languages that play a key role in XML processing by allowing developers to find these needles and manipulate embedded information. XPath describes a route for finding specific items by defining a path through the hierarchy of an XML document, abstracting only the information that's relevant for identifying the data. XPointer extends XPath to identify more complex parts of documents. The two technologies are critical for developers seeking needles in haystacks in various types of processing.

XPath and XPointer fills an essential need for XML developers by focusing directly on a critical topic that has been covered only briefly. Written by John Simpson, an author with considerable XML experience, the book offers practical knowledge of the two languages that underpin XML, XSLT and XLink. XPath and XPointer cuts through basic theory and provides real-world examples that you can use right away.

Written for XML and XSLT developers and anyone else who needs to address information in XML documents, the book assumes a working knowledge of XML and XSLT. It begins with an introduction to XPath basics. You'll learn about location steps and paths, XPath functions and numeric operators. Once you've covered XPath in depth, you'll move on to XPointer--its background, syntax, and forms of addressing. By the time you've finished the book, you'll know how to construct a full XPointer (one that uses an XPath location path to address document content) and completely understand both the XPath and XPointer features it uses.

XPath and XPointer contains material on the forthcoming XPath 2.0 spec and EXSLT extensions, as well as versions 1.0 of both XPath and XPointer. A succinct but thorough hands-on guide, no other book on the market provides comprehensive information on these two key XML technologies in one place.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (10 Aug 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596002912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596002916
  • Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 17.6 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 735,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

From the Publisher

Referring to specific information inside an XML document is a little like finding a needle in a haystack. XPath and XPointer are two closely related languages that play a key role in XML processing by allowing developers to find these needles and manipulate embedded information. By the time you've finished XPath and XPointer, you'll know how to construct a full XPointer (one that uses an XPath location path to address document content) and completely understand both the XPath and XPointer features it uses.

About the Author

John E. Simpson's forte is taking obscure bits of technical information and making them accessible. He is the author of Just XML, now in its second edition, and Just XSL (Prentice Hall), as well as XML.com's monthly XML Q&A column. John has been working with XML, XSL, and XPath since the technologies first emerged.

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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By Zares
Format:Paperback
On the whole, this is a well-researched and well-written book, although the chapters on XPointer could do with more concrete examples of how XPointer could be used, and also more clarity in places. The chapters on XPath are good, but are marred by two things. Firstly, the level of uncertainty about the details of the impending XPath 2.0 specification. And secondly, the function reference is not as good as it could be. The material on nodes, node-sets, location steps, paths and axes is excellent. However, before buying this book, you would be advised to check that the information you need is not covered elsewhere. For example, if you're interested in XSLT, then the level of XPAth detail in 'XSLT' by Doug Tidwell is probably enough. Oddly, the function reference in Tidwell's book is superior to Simpson's.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lots of room for improvement 5 May 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I've been working with this book for a couple of weeks now and have to say that I am really disappointed. It's way too concept-heavy and there are nowhere near enough examples. The examples there are given are too general.
Looking at how thin this book is makes me wonder whether its existence is a calculated effort to rip off developers interested in learning more about the subject. I could have learned all this book has to say about XPath and XPointer concepts from reading various tutorials on the web.
The book has the feel of being slapped together quickly in an effort to rush it to market, which is a pity because it has lots of potential. The index in particular is extremely poor. I've lost count of how many times I've tried to look something up that I know I've read in the book but is not in the index.
Simpson can write, but he has the unfortunate tendency to use absurd sentences like "Don't fret; there are more detailed examples aplenty throughout the rest of the book", which, besides being untrue, leaves one with the feeling being lectured by a cowboy.
Save your money, I wish I had.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for XPath 1.0 13 Sep 2007
By Beard
Format:Paperback
Like reviewer "A reader", I've been working with this book for a couple of weeks now, but unlike that reviewer I can say I'm VERY happy with this book.

I needed some detailed explanations about XPath 1.0 as I'm using Vbscript & Microsoft's DOM implementation (Microsoft do not yet support XPath 2.0).. I've been through 5 other books & countless web pages seeking a proper understanding and some examples of what's possible, without much success.. until I read chapters 1 - 5 of this book (ch6 is XPath 2.0, the remainder is XPointer). Worth every penny!

I could not agree with the previous reviewer less.. the book is well written, has plenty of easy to follow examples, is very thorough, and definitely does NOT feel like a "calculated effort to rip off developers".

I as so glad I decided to ignore the reviews in this case and buy the book anyway.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The complexity of the book hides the simplicity of XPath 7 Jun 2003
By Roger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
O'Reilly books are usually a good choice for a professional to learn a concept in an effective way. However, this book is an exception. If you think XPath looks difficult, it is just because this book makes it _seem_ difficult. Read the official W3C specifikation instead and you will see how simple XPath really is.
The book incorporates a lot of discussions about XPath but they really get in the way of XPath, beeing presented the way they are. It would have been more effective if the book explained XPath just by including the 30 pages of XPath specification, and instead focused not on explaing, but on discussing aspects.
My main point is that you learn to use, as well as master, XPath an order of magnitude faster by reading the specification than by reading this book.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Falls short in comparison with XSLT related books 3 Feb 2003
By Cees van Barneveldt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
From the back page of this book: "XPath and XPointer focuses directly on a critical topic that has been covered only briefly in other books". That is true as far as it goes for XPointer;however there are quite a number of XSLT books that explain XPath. That makes sense, because XPath is mainly used in the context of XSLT. (The other context is XPointer, but that is not official W3C recommendation yet, and will be much more limited in use.) That means that a book that deals almost exclusively with XPath should give a better and fuller treatment of XPath than most of the XSLT related books in order to have added value.
Quite frankly, I do not think that this book fulfills that promise. Chapter 2 "XPath Basics" fails to explain the theory behind XPath in a comprehensive manner, and is a tough read. What I am missing here is a clear explanation of how XPath relates to the DOM Model and XSLT processing model. Chapter 3 and 4 give a pretty decent explanation of how XPath expressions and functions work. The description is not complete however, I missed for instance an explanation of the key() function and element-available() function. What I also miss are the production rules of XPath. A more formal approach, with assistance of the official W3C recommendation, would have given a much completer explanation of XPath. Why was't the official W3C recommendation included via an appendix? Chapter 5 "XML in Action" is solely dedicated to examples. Very useful and clear. Chapter 6 "XPath 2.0" talks about how future XPath specifications are developing. Which is interesting of course, but by it's very nature speculative.
Chapter 7 thru 9 try to explain XPointer. These chapters fail completely for a number of reasons:
a) XPointer is not an official recommendation yet, so the authors are shooting at a moving target
b) XPointer will mainly be used together with XLink, which is not explained in this book
c) I found the explanation incomprehensible.
My advice would be to skip this book and buy a good XSLT book that also covers XPath instead, such as the XSLT Programmer's Reference from Michael Kay.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Focused and to the point 26 Oct 2002
By Foti Massimo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
XPath is a crucial but often neglected technology for any developer that need to deal with XSLT in a serious way and it's also fully integrated in many XML parsers, like the ones from Microsoft or ColdFusion. This is a small and very focused book that manages to offer a detailed coverage of XPath mixed with some excellent practical advices. Personally I am not interested in XPointer right now, so I totally skipped the second part of the book, but I think the 120 pages dedicated to XPath are well worth the money
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, sweet and to the point. 4 Sep 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I love O'Reilly books. This book is a great reference book. It also does a very good job of explaining XPath and Xpointer in a more general sense. When I first started working heavily with XML I had no idea what the XPath syntax meant. Now just a month later I can pretty much read anything that's put in front of me. Combine this book with the XSLT book and you really have an awesome combination of material to use.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine reference but covered in other books 13 Dec 2003
By Jack D. Herrington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a relatively short book on XPath and, as one of the other reviews points out, it tends to complicate what is generally a fairly simple standard. The XPath portion of the XSLT : Programmer's Reference from Michael Kay is more succinct covers the important parts in enough detail to get the job done.
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