Beginning XML (Programmer to programmer) Paperback – 1 Nov 2001
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From the Publisher
Beginning XML 2nd Edition is for any developer who is interested in learning to use XML in web, e-commerce or data-storage applications. Some knowledge of mark up, scripting, and/or object oriented programming languages is advantageous, but not essential, as the basis of these techniques are explained as required.
From the Back Cover
Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a rapidly maturing technology with powerful real–world applications, particularly for the management, display, and transport of data. Together with its many related technologies, it has become the standard for data and document delivery on the Web.
This book teaches you all you need to know about XML what it is, how it works, what technologies surround it, and how it can best be used in a variety of situations, from simple data transfer to using XML in your web pages. It builds on the strengths of the first edition, and provides new material to reflect the changes in the XML landscape notably SOAP and Web Services, and the publication of the XML Schemas Recommendation by the W3C.
Who is this book for?
Beginning XML, 2nd Edition is for any developer who is interested in learning to use XML in web, e–commerce, or data storage applications. Some knowledge of mark up, scripting, and/or object oriented programming languages is advantageous, but not essential, as the basis of these techniques is explained as required.
What does this book cover?
- XML syntax and writing well–formed XML
- Using XML Namespaces
- Transforming XML into other formats with XSLT
- XPath and XPointer for locating specific XML data
- XML validation using DTDs and XML Schemas
- Manipulating XML documents with the DOM and SAX 2.0
- SOAP and Web Services
- Displaying XML using CSS and XSL
- Incorporating XML into traditional databases and n–tier architectures
- XLink for linking XML and non–XML resources
Top customer reviews
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
There is no shortage of information, examples, screenshots, or explanations. Shortly into Chapter 2 you begin a hands-on approach to learning, using freely available editors and parsers to create XML data files and documents; all in a graduated learning fashion, each example building on the skills gained from the last. Don't want to type it? The code is readily available for download and the book shows the results within screenshots.
Beyond the main body of the book itself are appendices which can provide greater context for you as to how to implement XML in different environments, such as application and web development. These appendices can be skipped without hindering the over-all learning environment.
As described, the title is quite lengthy. However, XML is typically not a stand-alone language, and to truly harness XML you need to understand the other technologies XML uses - and this title gives you that knowledge in a very reader-friendly fashion. What you will gain from reading this title is well worth the time invested.
Ye GODS is this book dull. XML is a dry, dull topic to begin with. Declarative programming is a dry, dull topic. (Or perhaps I've just reached my limit with new programming concepts, and they're not fun any more.) This book does little to liven up that native dryness. But I suppose I don't read programming books for excitement and adventure. Still...I've read nerd books that had less of the "propped-up eyelids" effect. There have even been moments when bold propositions on the revolutionary nature of OOP had me feeling the rush of wind in my (now non-existent) hair, the smell of salty sea air in my nostrils, and the the thrill of the chase in my veins.
This book is more like an all-day visit with your prim Baptist grandmother. It might save your soul, but you won't be telling your friends about it later.
Some of the material is covered very well. The opening chapters are clear and concise, and the material on XML namespaces was very helpful to me. Other material is not covered so well. Some of the examples in XSLT, especially XPath, are tossed out, and are hideously confusing. It is only two or three paragraphs later that the confusing aspects are cleared up (if at all). I find this maddening, because I tend to hover on the example, and the paragraph immediately following it, until I figure it out. (I hate leaving unresolved questions in my mind when I'm reading programming books. Too often, they stay unresolved, and then I find myself lost when I'm attempting to code.) When I would finally give up in despair, I'd find the answer a bit further down the page, and realize I'd been wasting my time. Overall, when I got through the XSLT chapter, I understood it, but it was much more frustrating than it needed to be. I sense the lack of a good editor (or maybe any editor) here.
There were also a few strange examples written for, as the author himself admits, the "sheer perverseness" of it. DON'T DO THAT! If you want to have a sidebar where you show some unusual ways of doing things, fine. Keep them out of your primary examples. This is where a good editor steps in, clears his throat, and points a stern, accusing finger at the offending passage. A single word--"Out!"--suffices to bend the author to his will.
But I have to admit that I have yet to see somebody write a good, overall introduction to XPath that doesn't completely confuse and discombobulate a newbie. So it isn't just this author who is at fault.
The chapters on XML Schemas and DTDs are good. The chapters on the DOM and SAX interfaces are excellent. I nearly enjoyed reading them.
A lot of the later stuff in the book doesn't really belong in a "Beginning XML" book, if you ask me. SOAP, XML and Databases, Linking and Querying XML...these seem like at least intermediate topics, if not advanced. In my opinion, the "Beginning" part of the book ended more or less at page 385, even though the book goes on to page 603 before you hit the appendices. (The appendices contain some helpful reference material.)
I'm also not terribly happy with Wrox's "sell more books" technique of having "Beginning" and "Professional" books that have so much overlapping material. A lot of the stuff in their "Professional XML" book is not much more than a rehash of material presented here. It's dull enough the first time! The diagrams on the backs of their books imply that there's a progression from one book to the other. I didn't think that reading the "Professional" book was worth the effort after reading the "Beginning" book. I just picked out bits I was interested in. That meant at the bookstore, because I sure wasn't going to fork over the price for another big book I wouldn't read.
One other thing--the book has far too many errors in it. Admittedly, Wrox is very good at having online errata for their books to provide corrections. But careful editing up front is always preferable. The whole nerd book industry has a really awful reputation for sloppy editing. It's time that changed.
Nevertheless, there's no doubt that this book gives you a good grounding in a broad range of XML topics. Be prepared to be confused by the XLST and XPath material. (Consider looking at other sources for XPath in addition to this one.) Be prepared to visit Wrox's errata page for this book, and write in all the corrections in your copy. But this book does fairly well for a single-volume introduction to XML. If only it weren't so dull!
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