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Book details of 'Learning XML'

Cover of Learning XML
TitleLearning XML
Author(s)Erik T. Ray
PublishedFebruary 2001
PublisherO'Reilly & Associates
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The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'Learning XML':

Reviewer wrote:
Although Learning XML covers XML rather broadly, it nevertheless presents the key elements of the technology with enough detail to familiarize the reader with this crucial markup language. This guide is brief enough to tackle in a weekend. Author Erik T. Ray begins with an excellent summary of XML's history as an outgrowth of SGML and HTML. He outlines very clearly the elements of markup, demystifying concepts such as attributes, entities, and namespaces with numerous clear examples. To illustrate a real-world XML application, he gives the reader a look at a document written in DocBook--a publicly available XML document type for publishing technical writings--and explains the sections of the document step by step. A more simplified version of DocBook is used later in the book to illustrate transformation--a powerful benefit of XML. The all-important Document Type Definition (DTD) is covered in depth, but the still-unofficial alternative, XML Schema, is only briefly addressed. The author makes liberal use of graphics, tables, and code to demonstrate concepts along the way, keeping the reader engaged and on track. Ray also goes deep into some discussion of programming XML utilities with Perl. Learning XML is a very readable introduction to XML for readers with existing knowledge of markup and Web technologies. It meets its goals very well--to deliver a broad perspective of XML and its potential. --Stephen W. Plain Topics covered:XML overview XPointer XLink XHTML Presentation with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) Document Type Definitions (DTDs) XML Schemas Transformation with XSLT Internationalization Simple API for XML (SAX)

Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is currently being seen as the cure for all the ills (and incompatibilities) of the Web, and, by extension (sorry), for information technology as a whole. Why this might happen, and how XML might be used, is not often made clear. Chapter one is enthusiastic and up-beat--but not very specific. We are told that XML allows you to describe data, and to create new data structures, but then again, pretty much every computer language ever invented does the same thing. We are told that it performs functions similar to SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and that, in fact, XML is a reduced version of SGML, but we are not told why SGML was too big, nor what we might be giving up in moving to XML. We are not given any useful example of what we might do with XML: in fact, the only realistic example in the chapter uses MathML (Math Markup Language). And the chapter ends by basically outlining the fact that nobody really supports XML yet. Chapter two provides clear examples of XML syntax and requirements, but only at a basic level. (For example, does the use of compound documents help with the use of multiple namespaces, or just make the problem worse?) There is, finally, an example of real XML using the Barebones DocBook application. Links are dealt with in chapter three. XLink is clear, though brief, with recognizable definitions of HTML image and anchor tags. The explanation of XPointer is more confused, and the section concludes with an example of strict XHTML (eXtensible HyperText Markup Language) which doesn't seem to fit the topic at all. Presentation and stylesheets are covered in chapter four, concentrating on the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) model. Chapter five examines two types of document models, spending most of the time explaining DTDs (Document Type Definitions) and then briefly looking at XSchema. While transformations are supposed to be the topic of chapter 6, the point is not really clear, and the text seems to deal primarily with XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language for Transformations) simply as a special case of XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language). Internationalization is limited to the fact that you can specify encoding and language, in chapter seven. Chapter eight, on programming for XML, contains Perl code for a parser and syntax checker. This book is a good introduction to XML, and the various related technologies. It is difficult to say that, by the end of the work, you will actually have learned XML, but that has more to do with the current amorphous state of the technology than any fault in writing. copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001

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Book description:

The arrival of support for XML--the Extensible Markup Language--in browsers and authoring tools has followed a long period of intense hype. Major databases, authoring tools (including Microsoft's Office 2000), and browsers are committed to XML support. Many content creators and programmers for the Web and other media are left wondering, "What can XML and its associated standards really do for me?" Getting the most from XML requires being able to tag and transform XML documents so they can be processed by web browsers, databases, mobile phones, printers, XML processors, voice response systems, and LDAP directories, just to name a few targets. In Learning XML, the author explains XML and its capabilities succinctly and professionally, with references to real-life projects and other cogent examples. Learning XML shows the purpose of XML markup itself, the CSS and XSL styling languages, and the XLink and XPointer specifications for creating rich link structures. The basic advantages of XML over HTML are that XML lets a web designer define tags that are meaningful for the particular documents or database output to be used, and that it enforces an unambiguous structure that supports error-checking. XML supports enhanced styling and linking standards (allowing, for instance, simultaneous linking to the same document in multiple languages) and a range of new applications. For writers producing XML documents, this book demystifies files and the process of creating them with the appropriate structure and format. Designers will learn what parts of XML are most helpful to their team and will get started on creating Document Type Descriptions. For programmers, the book makes syntax and structures clear. It also discusses the stylesheets needed for viewing documents in the next generation of browsers, databases, and other devices.

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