Nearly 900 pages for $23 bucks? These folks live in the real world of budgets! The promo material on this text says that XML is for "document handling." Well, that's correct in some senses, but XML is far more important than that-- it's a little more than a Xerox machine with a network chip. It actually is about information management and standards. If you're an educator, you've likely run into Bill Clinton's (infamous?) SCORM standards, which in a nutshell, tell e-learning folks about the XML files they need to generate to follow certain rules. If you get into it deeply, you'll see the rules are about assuming folks are dishonest, and making sure it's Jimmy taking that online exam, not Joanie.
If you know a little HTML, that's all you really need to get started here. The authors step us through with a very nice pace, building on each section without assuming we're already HTML or CSS experts. Remember, XML is a document storage, transmission and management STANDARD, NOT a "display" language where you can add some tags and "go bold." In fact, XML has to depend on other languages to do everything else around it's standard-- and doesn't even have "native" tags. If you're turning your website into a database or search driven document behemoth, you'll likely be investing in LINQ, SQL and PDF conversions from and to XML to make your system work.
There are a couple other books out there on XML, but they are outdated. This 5th Edition has ALL the latest "plug ins" surrounding XML, and without them you'd really be out of date! SEO folks will love this, because it takes the usual "Google secret Numerical Analysis" formulas and raises them a step up to sleek compliance details that will optimize how the spiders see your pages. Like the donkey, if you don't whack the spider on the head with compliance and best info practices first, who cares how great the metas are if it doesn't look at them?
Who else? ANYONE whose life is data management intensive. I'm CTO at a worldwide Body of Knowledge DBMS firm (iabok dot org) and our daily routine includes HUGE documents, and is all about Taxonomy and data management, storage and retrieval. So, here's a list: Publishers, Lawyers, Educators, SEO folk, Web Designers, Archivists, Librarians, ISPs, Internet semantics folk, Search folk, Router and Network folk, Global CFO's required to report in XBRL/XML to SEC by 2013... etc.
Ontology in philosophy is about whether things are real or not, in DBMS it's about filters-- what we accept and reject, and why. XML was created assuming that someday information would become so massive, we'd need a special language just to direct traffic. Someday is here. People creating the best data driven web services don't use XML because they "have to" to comply with standards that the spiders like, they do so because it is a ROCKING language that handles huge chunks of info very efficiently when you surround it with it's favorite tools. XML also is the "heart" of many other X languages (like the aforementioned XBRL), which use it's attributes to populate their namespace ISO's, schemas and even rule details.
This book will meet your needs even if you only "have" to use XML due to a standard, but will also be really helpful and enjoyable if you also are trying to get or stay up to date on best practices not only for the "right" way to do things, but also the most enjoyable, efficient and effective. Out in IT land those two rarely go together, but in XML land, with texts like this to show us the links, they do.
Written clearly enough for self study, but would also make a great text for a course. Would you skim, read, study or refer to this? With a lot of HTML knowledge-- skim and refer, as a beginner, read and study, then skim and refer as you grow. Yep, definitely works for more than one narrow audience.