Learning XML: Guide to Creating Self-Describing Data Paperback – Jan 11 2001
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Although Learning XML covers XML with a broad brush, it nevertheless presents the key elements of the technology with enough detail to familiarise the reader with the 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 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 graphical illustrations, tables and code to demonstrate concepts along the way, keeping the reader engaged and on track. Ray also gets into a deep discussion of programming XML utilities with Perl.
Learning XML is a highly readable introduction to XML for readers with existing knowledge of markup and Web technologies, and it meets its goals very well--to deliver a broad perspective of XML and its potential. --Stephen W Plain
Erik Ray's Learning XML is quite simply the best
general introduction to XML that I have read to date. -- gbdirect.co.uk, Jan 2002
Highly recommended for anyone interested in understanding XML and keeping up with the rapid developments of this important technology. -- James Kalback, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Oct 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
Some other O'Reilly books in the 'Learning' series have exercises with solutions in the back which I have found very useful. This book unfortunately did not have exercises with solutions. More examples would also have been appreciated.
The title also has many errors, so the errata list on the publisher's web site is important. The book does not include any of the source code, so if you want that, you have to download it. Even then, it is not complete and file titles in the book do not always match the provided code file names.
If you are looking for a hands-on book to learn XML, this isn't the title. If you know XML and are looking for a reference, again - not for you. However, if you are interested in it from more of an administrative overview position, then the title is worth the read. It can provide many answers and give a good base of information without the need to actually write any XML on your own.
The paucity of examples was particularly frustrating in the XSLT chapter. By its very nature, XSLT screams out for illustrative examples showing 'before' and 'after' transformations, but the author provides very few such examples.
Another thing that really irked me was the condescending writing style of the author. Here's an example from Ch. 4 on CSS:
"A CSS stylesheet is a collection of rules... An analogy for this process is painting-by-numbers. In this activity, you purchase a painting kit that comes with paints..."
Really now! This style of writing is not necessary and is frankly offensive. XML inherently is not a beginner's topic; a reader who picks up this book is most likely an IT manager or a developer and does not need to be talked-down upon.
If you're a java developer, I suggest you take a look at "Processing XML with Java" by Harold.
At every step of a discussion, the author makes sure he doesn't loose the reader and tries to get as clear as possible to ensure author and the reader are on the same page.
When introducing an important syntax, always provides an indexed small diagram/image with detailed annotation. Also annotates real-life examples provided in the book.
The chapters area well organized.
Chapter 1, "Introduction" gives a brief picture of XML, how its being used today, potentials, tools needed and validating them.
Chapter 2, "Markup and Core Concept" is definitely the heart of the book. The chapter lasts about 40 pages, and covers the core of XML and its syntax. By the end of the chapter, one can find tips to "Get the Most out of Markup", and a real-life example of a DocBook, followed by annotation.
Chapter 3, "Connecting Resources with Links" talks about XLink and XPointer, the specifications you need to be able to manipulate links and locating the portions of text in a markup. Touches upon Formal Public Identified (FPI) and explains the syntax. By the end of the chapter gives an XHTML example followed by annotation.
Chapter 4, "Presentation: Creating the End Product" is mainly about CSS and its syntax. Pros and cons are covered.
Chapter 5, "Document Models: A Higher Level of Control" is about documenting your markup through DTDs or XML Schema. Very well presented!Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I was hoping for more, but this book does a good job describing all of the elements of XML. Not a book on writing XML.Published on Jan. 23 2004
This is a good XML book for those that have no previous knowleadge of it. It starts slowly and speed up as you read the chapters. Read morePublished on July 25 2003 by Mario M. B. Neto
I have to say that the first 5 chapters, served as a good introduction to XML. It was much much better than any Dummies book of the subject. Read morePublished on June 23 2003 by Francis
Learning XML provides a relatively useful overview of the topic, though it doesn't go that much in depth. Read morePublished on Dec 27 2002 by anonymous
This book straddles the fine line between "for developers", and "for executives" - it does the Jack of All Trades things well, it Masters none however. Read morePublished on Nov. 13 2002 by levl289
A clean introduction to the topic, ideal for beginners or to people that just need an overview. It covers not only XML and DTD, but also different related technologies like XSL,... Read morePublished on Nov. 1 2002 by Foti Massimo
When I started reading this book, I knew nothing about XML. After reading the book, I'm much farther ahead now. Read morePublished on Oct. 1 2002 by Brian Yager
I bought this book based on uniformly good experience with the publisher, but I will have to revise my standards in the future. Read morePublished on Sept. 18 2002 by Michael Spertus
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