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XML: Visual QuickStart Guide (2nd Edition) [Paperback]

Kevin Howard Goldberg
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Book Description

Dec 11 2008 0321559673 978-0321559678 2
What is XML? XML, or eXtensible Markup Language, is a specification for storing information. It is also a specification for describing the structure of that information. And while XML is a markup language (just like HTML), XML has no tags of its own. It allows the person writing the XML to create whatever tags they need. The only condition is that these newly created tags adhere to the rules of the XML specification.

In the seven years since the first edition of “XML: Visual QuickStart Guide” was published, XML has taken its place next to HTML as a foundational language on the Internet. XML has become a very popular method for storing data and the most popular method for transmitting data between all sorts of systems and applications. The reason being, where HTML was designed to display information, XML was designed to manage it.

This book begins by showing you the basics of the XML language. Then, by building on that knowledge, additional and supporting languages and systems will be discussed. To get the most out of this book, you should be somewhat familiar with HTML, although you don’t need to be an expert coder by any stretch. No other previous knowledge is required.

“XML: Visual QuickStart Guide, 2nd Edition” is divided into seven parts. Each part contains one or more chapters with step-by-step instructions that explain how to perform XML-related tasks. Wherever possible, examples of the concepts being discussed are displayed, and the parts of the examples on which to focus are highlighted.

The order of the book is intentionally designed to be an introduction to the fundamentals of XML, followed by discussions of related XML technologies.

    •    In Part 1 of the book, you will learn how to create an XML document. It’s relatively straightforward, and even more so if you know a little HTML.

    •    Part 2 focuses on XSL, which is a set of languages designed to transform an XML document into something else: an HTML file, a PDF document, or another XML document. Remember, XML is designed to store and transport data, not display it.

    •    Parts 3 and 4 of the book discuss DTD and XML Schema, languages designed to define the structure of an XML document. In conjunction with XML Namespaces (Part 5), you can guarantee that XML documents conform to a pre-defined structure, whether created by you or by someone else.

    •    Part 6, Developments and Trends, details some of the up-and-coming XML-related languages, as well as a few new versions of existing languages.

    •    Finally, Part 7 identifies some well-known uses of XML in the world today; some of which you may be surprised to learn.

This beginner’s guide to XML is broken down as follows:
    •    Introduction
    •    Chapter 1:  Writing XML

    •    Part 2:  XSL
    •    Chapter 2:  XSLT
    •    Chapter 3:  XPath Patterns and Expressions
    •    Chapter 4:  XPath Functions
    •    Chapter 5:  XSL-FO

    •    Part 3:  DTD
    •    Chapter 6:  Creating a DTD
    •    Chapter 7:  Entities and Notations in DTDs
    •    Chapter 8:  Validation and Using DTDs

    •    Part 4:  XML Schema
    •    Chapter 9:  XML Schema Basics
    •    Chapter 10:  Defining Simple Types
    •    Chapter 11:  Defining Complex Types

    •    Part 5:  Namespaces
    •    Chapter 12:  XML Namespaces
    •    Chapter 13:  Using XML Namespaces

    •    Part 6:  Recent W3C Recommendations
    •    Chapter 14:  XSLT 2.0
    •    Chapter 15:  XPath 2.0
    •    Chapter 16:  XQuery 1.0

    •    Part 7:  XML in Practice
    •    Chapter 17:  Ajax, RSS, SOAP and More
 


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About the Author

Kevin Howard Goldberg has been working with computers since 1976 when he taught himself BASIC on his elementary school’s PDP 11/70. Since then, Kevin’s career has included management consulting, lead software development and in his current capacity,  he runs technology operations for a world-class Internet Strategy, Marketing and Development company.
 
Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Entrepreneurial Management from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of many beginning XML books April 7 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because I was familiar with the HTML books in the same series, and it lives up to its promise. Gets you into XML quickly, but is comprehensive enough to take you a long way into a project
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent June 15 2011
By Bruno L
Format:Paperback
Excellent book. Topics start from the beginning, but go into significant depth. Books has to be read more than once to get full advantage.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A GOOD Beginners Guide to XML that Delivers Jan. 27 2009
By Robert F. Sullivan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Truth be told, I do not work as a Web developer, but on a daily basis my job has me in contact with business clients and Web application developers. My clients require robust Web applications, my developers make it happen. Because of legacy data issues, shared disparate databases, and the need for them to handshake; XML Web services have become a standard solution in many commercial Web solutions. Though I am somewhat familiar with the basics of XML I wanted to go deeper to better myself and better my knowledge in client/tech conversations. What I did not want to do is to go so deep as to read a monster 1000+ page tome that would require weeks of book study, application and befuddlement.

Instead, Mr. Goldberg's book provided me a concise break down the structure of XML markup language in a detailed/digestible enough manner to keep me engaged and participatory. Each chapter cleverly builds on previous topics, so as to provide a pyramid learning approach. This enabled me to go deeper than before into the more arcane areas of the language (XPath patterns, functions, expressions, XSL-FO, DTD's, schemas, etc.) so it could be more easily understood.

If you are new to XML, curious, or need enough to know to be dangerous in your job, then this book is for you. BTW, I highly recommend that you download his chapter samples so as to follow along and to tinker with. I read the entire book in a weekend and returned to work on Monday loaded for bear. Now I keep it at my desk for easy reference.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book on XML Dec 28 2008
By Em - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
XML: Visual QuickStart Guide (2nd Edition)

I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn the basics of XML.

I have about an intermediate level of HTML acumen and wanted a book that would cover enough of the rudiments to get a good grasp of the subject. It does that, as well as cover a myriad of related apps such as XPath, XSLT, and XQuery.

I also really appreciated the comprehensible instructions, visual examples, recommended tools, and the applications that give XML its currency in the real world.

All in all, an excellent source.
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Larry Grinnell's MyMac.com Review April 19 2009
By Tim E Robertson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
XML (eXtensible Markup Language) has become the medium to move data in efficient and predictable ways. Derived from a similar markup language, SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), XML is structured, but not as highly as SGML. Structure is what itís all about. The very loosely structured HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is also derived from SGML. Even the XML markup looks amazingly like HTML, except, as the author explains, HTML defines how information will look, while XML defines how the information is formatted.

Here is a portion of an XML file:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<my_siblings>
<sibling>
<name>Norm</name>
<gender>Male</gender>
<age>65</age>
</sibling>
<sibling>
<name>Nancy</name>
<gender>Female</gender>
<age>52</age>
</sibling>
<sibling>
<name>Guy</name>
<gender>Male</gender>
<age>48</age>
</sibling>
</my_siblings>\

If you analyze the code sample above, you should be able to see that there are three siblings defined. Each siblingís information is contained, or wrapped, between the <sibling> and </sibling> tags, and that the information on those three siblings is wrapped between the <my_siblings> and </my_siblings> tags. Taking this one step further, you can think of these sibling "chunks" as parts of a database: the content between the <sibling> and </sibling> tags would be defined as a record, while the <name></name>, <gender></gender>, and <age></age> tags define fields within a record. This content can then be transformed into content in a different format and reused in many different ways.

In XML, as in HTML, you can also see that each chunk of information is tagged with an opening and closing tag.

Why structure? With a standardized method of defining chunks of information, the information can be easily shared, re-used, translated, and manipulated in infinite ways, yet retain its integrity and its overall definition. XML, being an ASCII text format, is universalóit can be shared among multiple platforms without modification, save for some minor file system issues that are beyond the scope of this review.

One major use of XML is in content management systems (CMS), where it can be searched, selectively extracted, and assembled into larger documents that then can be transformed into final deliverables, such as a PDF file, Help files, or a set of HTML files. Sure, you could probably do this with plain text, but without the underlying required structure, it would be a lot harder, and would probably require a large amount of post-assembly editing before even attempting to create the deliverables.

Another popular use of XML is in Adobe Flash animations and programs. By building the text content in external files formatted as XML that the Flash file points to, dealing with localized (translated) content is an extremely simple matteróoften just changing the filename links in the main Flash file can transform an English language document into a Spanish, French, or whatever document in momentsóand by maintaining the master files in a database-driven content management system, you can translate content that might be used in multiple documents or even multiple times in the same document once and only once, which, I can assure you, results in huge cost savings.
Kevin Howard Goldberg has put together an excellent primer on the multifaceted alphabet soup that is XML. He updated the first edition of this book, originally authored by Elizabeth Castro, with Ms. Castroís assistance, adding information on some of the newer applications of XML: XSL-FO, XSLT 2.0, XPath 2.0, and XQuery 1.0.

The book is divided into the following sections, each of which builds on the previous chapter:

* XML ñ The basics of writing XML code, and the underlying structure.
* XSL ñ How to transform XML into multiple deliverables (HTML, XML, etc.). It also covers XSLT, XPath, and XSL-FO. XSL-FO is most widely used to transform XML files into PDF deliverables.
* DTD ñ Document Type Definition. DTDs are the underlying glue that holds the XML together. How? By defining and detailing the rules under which valid XML files function. Separate sections discuss entities and notations, as well as validations (ensuring the XML file follows the rules defined in the DTD).
* XML Schema ñ Developed to overcome some of the shortcomings of DTDs, the XML Schema is a more powerful document, designed to give the author even more control over how the XML content is structured and defined.
* XML Namespaces ñ A method of combining XML from multiple sources, even if there are identical element names. XML Namespaces provides a method to merge the content while retaining the definitions of each independent element (I hope I got that rightÖ).
* Recent W3C (World Wide Web Committee) Recommendations ñ Discusses some of the newest enhancements to the XML specifications including XSLT 2.0, XPath 2.0, and XQuery 1.0.
* XML in Practice ñ Applications of XML, especially in Web 2.0 usage. Topics and examples include Ajax, RSS, SOAP, WSDL, KML, ODF, OOXML, eBooks, ePub, and more. I told you it was an alphabet soup!
* Appendices ñ Discusses XML editors and tools. Full character set and entity tables.

This book is a great introduction to XML. Itís loaded with sample code and examples to get you started. Itís well illustrated and makes great use of color. Peachpit Press also offers a companion website with sample code, updates, etc.

XML is not for the faint-of-heart. There are just so many pieces that comprise the XML specification; it can be confusing, even with this Visual Quickstart Guide. The only thing I didnít see in this book, and most likely because of its inherent specialization is the DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture) specification. DITA is a highly specialized topic-based XML-based markup language, mainly used for creating instructional materials (user documentation, educational texts, and so on). I recommend this book highly.

MyMac Magazine rating of 4.5 out of 5
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book for beginners. March 19 2012
By Kurtis A. Staples-king - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a good book. I would highly recommend that you have some experience with HTML prior to reading it, I hadn't looked into HTML for a while (10 years) and so it was an extremely hypothetical reading. Had I caught up on my HTML first I am certain I would have got even more out of it.

In any case the examples are easy to follow, the author does a great job of breaking things down into nice digestible chunks. If you're looking to take your XML to the next level this is not the book for you, if you are however looking for a solid foundation to build from I would certainly recommend this book without hesitation.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward, succinct & comprehensive. May 8 2011
By rg61 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Exactly what I (an IT professional with over a decade of experience but minimal XML exposure) was looking for -- a reference to bring me up to speed quickly so that I could read & understand existing XML constructs and converse intelligently about them with colleagues.

The book provided what I needed to know, with limited errata and without fluff.

Highly recommended.
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