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Customer Review

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent task-based introduction to XML, 16 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Xml: Visual QuickStart Guide (Visual QuickStart Guides) (Paperback)
As a University teacher who covers this topic in relation to the Digital Humanities, I've used the first edition of this book for a number of years, and have found it to be the best at getting up to speed with the practicalities of XML - it's surprising how little it had dated, apart from some of the public identifiers and the more problematic omission of the complexities of namespaces, it was still quite usable. I really like its task-based format, with everything in easily approachable segments, which I think works well both for self-study and in the classroom.

So I was *very* pleased to see it had been updated, and was also pleased that the structure and intent of the book hadn't changed - it is proving to be as effective in the classroom as the first edition (so far). The additional material is very welcome, particularly the extra power of XPath 2.0 and the developments with XQuery. The 'XML in practice' chapter is useful in answering some of the questions of the more technically minded students, and encourages them to investigate further.

I'm also relieved that the material on DTDs has remained. We have a very 'mixed background' class, ranging from Computer Science undergraduates through to humanities postgraduates who need to learn XML to mark up their digitised source material, and who may have very little technical experience when they begin. DTDs are still the easiest way to grasp document definition languages; being relatively simple they are much more transparent, and the students can see the relationship between the definition and the resultant markup very clearly as they develop their application in the <oXygen/> editor.

The only real criticism of the new edition I've found so far is the use of colour in the examples. In some cases, it makes it much harder to read the markup or code - I can see why the colour coding makes sense, but the colours chosen could have been better (the orange is particularly difficult). Maybe I'm just getting old...

But that's just a minor niggle, especially as the code examples can be downloaded, so in general I'm very happy with the new edition. As a busy practitioner (working mostly with TEI/XML, XSLT and XQuery in humanities research projects), it has saved me a great deal of time and energy. It's now the recommended reading for the course.
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Location: University of Exeter, UK

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