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Pro PHP XML and Web Services Hardcover – Mar 28 2006

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About the Author

Robert Richards, currently an independent contractor, has worked in various fields including Medical Information, Telecommunications, Media and E-Learning. Having been exposed to XML since its inception and used for various projects during his career, his most extensive work with the technology was within the E-Learning space. He helped created a proprietary XML based application server which used XML for data publishing, defining application business logic as well as data querying. He was also the lead engineer for the company's involvement in SCORM (Shareable Content Object Reference Model), used for Web based learning, established by the Department of Defense through its Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative.

After becoming the latest casualty of the "dot-com" implosion in 2001, Rob had his first taste of PHP and began contributing code to the domxml extension in 2002. Since then he became one of the authors of the DOM extension for PHP 5, contributes to the other XML based extensions and has authored the xmlReader, for PHP 5, and xmlwriter, for PHP 4.3+, extensions. Also on occasion, he contributes bug fixes to the libxml2 project found during the development of these extensions.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Heavy Metal XML Sept. 28 2006
By David Stapleton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is first and foremost an XML reference. The author takes the reader through over 100 pages XML background in the first three chapters, then an overview of a few utilities like XPath and XPointer before he touches on PHP. Having provided some grounding in the basics, he then proceeds to develop the use of XML in PHP from the basic topics of DOM (Document Object Model) and XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) to the more advanced topics of SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol) and web services.

Along the way Richards introduces the reader to utility classes like SimpleXML, SAX (Simple API for XML), XMLReader. He also touches on PEAR (PHP Extension and Application Repository) utility classes and topics like security, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration). The author's examples are reasonably concise and readable; making the necessary points without getting carried away.

The bottom line is that this is a highly effective reference (that means fairly comprehensive, but dry reading; I read cover to cover, but it was relatively tedious) on XML and its varied uses in association with PHP. This is not a book for the newcomer to programming, nor is it a cookbook for examples for the casual programmer/web developer, although the author does provide PEAR examples for connecting with major web services like Amazon, Google and Yahoo (among others). My suggestion for readers is to review what you need of the first 11-12 chapters to ensure a firm grounding in XML, and then hop to the chapters specific to the problem being faced.

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Great Book! May 3 2006
By Joseph Topjian - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Let's get the obvious out of the way: this book is massive. Like 850 pages massive. And it's all about XML and PHP. Normally I'd be put off by a book like this. I'd think that there had to have been an easier and shorter way to explain these technologies. But I gave this book a chance anyway, and in the end, I wasn't disappointed at all.

Before I started reading, I knew just the basics about XML. I knew you could write some markup, transfer information using XML-RPC, and a little RSS. But that was about it. However, after finishing, I knew about such wonderful acronyms like XSLT, XPath, WDDX, and UDDI. I was also able to build on my beginning knowledge of RSS, DOM, XML-RPC, and SOAP. And finally, I learned all about the world of XML Security which I never knew existed.

In between the teachings of these XML topics, PHP was used for the code examples. Although PHP has an extremely large selection of XML tools and a lot of time was spent with these tools, I found the coverage to be complementary rather than a main subject. What I mean is that Mr. Richards covered every aspect of XML in great detail. He made sure the reader understood the purpose and mechanics of each topic first. Only after that did he present the reader with the knowledge of how to apply that topic with PHP. This is similar to saying, "Here's XML and here's how to do it with PHP. However, if you don't like the PHP way, at least you still know the core concepts so you can apply it another way."

Although this book is pretty long, I found it to be well written and just the right length to properly go over all the included topics. Each topic is covered in a manageable chapter - and some of the chapters even conclude with really nice example projects. It's obvious Mr. Richards spent a lot of time putting this book together and his finished work was well worth the effort. Apress has done a great job releasing another "Pro" title and by choosing Mr. Richards to write it.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The standout reference on PHP and XML June 20 2006
By RDH - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book is amazingly well written. The content is organized in an intuitive and logical fashion. The author explains base concepts and progresses into advanced topics, providing consistent depth of coverage along the way. The author's writing and concise examples get the message across on the first reading - unlike some texts that require multiple passes. It's also noteworthy that the Technical Reviewers, Christian Stocker and Adam Trachtenberg, are renowned PHP experts and authors. If you plan to study or work with PHP and XML, this book is a MUST HAVE.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An excellent resource for the PHP/XML programmer. April 28 2006
By seawana - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have very much enjoyed using this book. It is written in easy to understand language, but it is certainly not dumbed down either.

I found the example code used to be extremely succinct. This contrasts sharply with many other technical books that use either numerous code examples where more explanation would better serve the reader or not enough examples to illustrate a point.

The information covered is also quite comprehensive, covering everything from the very basics of XML structure and usage up to advanced XML used in RSS, WDDX, XML-RPC, and defining web services using SOAP. This book includes everything you'll need to know to integrate with many current web services or build your own.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Huge + Comprehensive June 11 2006
By Nathan Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Quite some time ago, Apress sent me Pro XML and Web Services to review, and I am just now getting around to it. First off, let me say that this book is huge. It weighs in at 936 pages, and the one I have is a hard-cover. Rob Richards has done an amazing job at providing an incredibly comprehensive volume, covering a vast amount of information.

Anything I write in this review will probably not do the book full justice, simply because it is so extensive. That being said, I will attempt to briefly summarize its contents, so you will have an idea of just how much is covered. Here is a listing of topics by each of the 21 chapters:

1. Introduction to XML and Web Services
2. XML Structure
3. Validation
4. XPath, XPointer, XInclude, and the Future
5. PHP and XML
6. Document Object Model (DOM)
7. SimpleXML
8. Simple API for XML (SAX)
9. XMLReader
10. Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT)
11. Effective and Efficient Processing
12. XML Security
13. PEAR and XML
14. Content Syndication: RSS and Atom
15. Web Distributed Data Exchange (WDDX)
17. Representational State Transfer (REST)
18. SOAP
19. Universal Description, Discovery, and Integration (UDDI)
20. PEAR and Web Services
21. Other XML Technologies and Extensions


1. XML Schema Built-In Data Types Reference
2. Extension APIs
3. Features and Changes in PHP 6

As you can see, there is quite a bit to be learned from this veritable tome of knowledge. There is even a sneak peek of what is around the corner for the future version of PHP 6. Since I can't really go over it all (well I could, but won't), allow me to point out some of the things I enjoyed about this book.

If you have worked with well-formed XHTML files at all, you no doubt are familiar with this bit of code, usually at the top of every document...


If you were to navigate to that *.dtd file, you would see a Document Type Definition for Extensible HTML 1.0. In fact, why don't you just go ahead and check it out. If you get a browser prompt, just open it in your favorite code editor. All of that information is what XHTML 1.0 Strict is validated against. XHTML, being a rewrite / facelift of HTML in XML, adheres to the W3C concept of Namespaces in XML. XHTML 1.1 also has a DTD, as does HTML 4.01, etc.

Hopefully it comes no surprise that you've been working with XML concepts for some time now, perhaps unknowingly. Richards helps demystify these concepts, and shows how to write your own custom Document Type Definitions. After all, that is the key tenet of XML - Extensibility. As long as things are properly self closing, there is a whole lot of flexilibility available. I liked his example of < sarcasm >...< /sarcasm > in one of the opening chapters.

After the chapters on XML, he moves to talking about the Document Object Model or DOM for short. You've no doubt heard this term before, probably in conjunction with JavaScript. DOM though, is language neutral or multi-lingual you could say. Just as JavaScript can be used to manipulate the DOM on the client-side, PHP can be used on the server-side to parse an XML document. That is of course the fundamental aspect of AJAX - shared information via XML between JS and a server-side language. In the case of this book, it's PHP.

In chapter 20 on PEAR and Web Services, he gets into how to use the services offered by Amazon,, Ebay, Google, Techorati, and Yahoo. In chapter 21, he touches briefly on Ajax. He does so from the standpoint that because it is becoming so prevalent, a PHP developer may need to know at least how it will interface with one's server-side code.

Also in the last chapter, he covers some things to think about when designing PHP driven sites to be served up on mobile devices. You could think of the wireless realm like the old West. The dust is still settling, and no real consensus has been reached as of yet. Some people swear by Wireless Markup Language, being pioneered by the Open Mobile Alliance, whereas others stick by the W3C recommendation to use XHTML Basic. It should be noted that the OMA and W3C are not at odds. WML is in fact written in XML.

Well, I will wrap this up. Hopefully I was not too brief in highlighting what I thought was cool. Really, the whole book is very good, but to write a paragraph about every chapter would make for a really lengthy review. I would highly recommend this as a resource for any developers who want to really dig in and solidify their working knowledge of PHP and web services, or just want to explore the nuances and complexities of XML DTD's and namespaces.