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on June 13, 2001
The XML declarative language, with its adaptability and expressive power, is continuing to become the language of choice for reporting and classifying information. XML is a formal grammar that captures the syntactic features of a document type definition, and its properties, syntax, and applications are discussed effectively in this book. It covers XML as formalized by the W3C and the authors show how to use XML in Web-based and database applications. Readers who have developed applications in HTML will probably view XML as somewhat more abstract, since the visual representation of the content of a document is not emphasized in XML. Readers are expected to have a background in HTML, JavaScript, Java, and ASP in order to read the book. Although XML can be learned by reading the W3C specifications, these documents are frequently difficult reading, and this book makes the learning of XML much easier than reading these specifications. They include the W3C specifications for XML 1.0 in an appendix to the book for the interested reader. The book is a little dated, since the W3C has been updating XML specs since the time of publication (especially with regard to schemas), but there is a 2nd edition coming out soon.
In Chapter 1, XML is introduced as a mark-up language and its inherent extensibility emphasized. This is followed by a detailed treatment of XML syntax in the next chapter, with emphasis placed on the hierarchical nature of XML. The authors do include a discussion of Processing Instructions (PIs) for users who want to use XML in this fashion.
Document Type Definitions (DTD) are the subject of Chapter 3, where the authors communicate effectively how DTDs formal grammar is used to specify the structure and permissible values of XML documents. The formal DTD structure is discussed, and the principles behind writing DTDs are effectively outlined. They also discuss the problems with using DTDs.
Data modeling with XML is discussed in the next chapter, with information modeling via static and dynamic models treated in detail, and the authors carefully distinguish these two approaches. The actual designing of XML documents is given a nice overview as well as the role of schemas in XML. This is followed in Chapter 6 by a discussion of the (tree-based) Document Object Model, which overviews how XML documents can be accessed by various programs. Some helpful examples are given on how the DOM can be used to create an XML document programmatically. An alternative way of processing an XML document is discussed in the next chapter on the (event-based) SAX interface. The authors outline in detail the benefits of using SAX rather than DOM. In Appendix B the reader will find the Internet Explorer 5.0 XML DOM 1.0 W3C specifications. In addition, in Appendix C, the specification for the SAX 1.0 interface is given.
The shortcomings of DTD are addressed in terms of XML Schemas and namespaces in chapter 7. Since this book was published, XML Schemas have reached W3C recommendation status as of Nov 2000. The authors give a good overview of namespaces and schemas, with helpful examples. This is followed in chapter 8 by a discussion of how to link and query into XML documents using the XML information set, XLink, XPath, XPointer, XML Fragment Interchange, with XLST covered in the next chapter. For database applications, the authors outline the differences between relational databases and XML documents. A very detailed treatment of how XLST transforms the source document is given, and the authors compare XLS and DOM transformations. An Internet Explorer XSL reference is included in one of the appendices of the book.
More details on the relationship between databases and XML is the subject of chapter 10, wherein the authors show how to store XML and how data can be communicated between different servers using XML. The issues involved when moving data from RDBMS to OODBMS or from Oracle to Sybase, are discussed by the authors. This is followed by an interesting discussion on how to use XML as a distributed component model for server-to-server communications via XML-Remote Procedure Call and Simple Object Access Protocol.
E-commerce applications are discussed in the next chapter, with EDI and its improvement via XML. The business markup language cXML , which allows business to business electronic commerce transactions across the Internet, is also treated in detail.
The authors then finally discuss how to render XML documents more readable and pleasing for the viewer in the next chapter using the style languages CSS and XSL. The discussion is really interesting, for the authors dig a little deeper into the foundations of style languages. The discussion of style languages as rule-based languages is particularly illuminating.
The next chapter is very interesting and its inclusion is actually very surprising, namely a discussion of the Wireless Application Protocol. The authors give an introduction to the Wireless Markup Language and WMLScript. The book ends with four useful chapters on case studies for data duality, distributed applications, a book catalog information service, and SOAP.
There are many applications of XML in many different areas, such as CellML (proprietary) used in cell biology, CML (Chemical Markup Language) for molecular chemistry, IML (Instrument Markup Language) for control of laboratory equipment, BSML (Bioinformatic Sequence Markup Language) for gene sequencing, and MathML for formatting of mathematical equations. I find XML an extremely powerful approach to information reporting and I am currently developing a package called NMML (Network Modeling Markup Language) for use in reporting results in simulation and mathematical modeling of networks, and FMML (Financial Modeling Markup Language) for use in reporting results in the modeling of financial instruments. This book, along with the W3C specifications, has been a tremendous help in the development of these applications.
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on July 14, 2000
I have bought several xml books and this one has educated me, taught me and interested me the most. There's no doubt the Wrox technical books are a match to the Oreilley in terms of readability and thoroughness. This book is a little peculiar in that it is written by several people, each contributing a separate chapter. As an introduction, it probably wouldn't be too helpful (although that wouldn't be a problem for someone with a programming background). The strengths of the book (at least what I've read so far) is the discussion of sax v. dom, the section on business applications on edi (really interesting for me), and the great reference source in the back. Can you believe I have xeroxed the css list of command options in the back--amazingly useful? The variety of writers give a fresh perspective, which can be bad and good. With the exception of the first few chapters, which give a good overview, the rest of the chapters are a grabbag of subjects, including 4 case studies. These were very useful in learning xml. It also discussed WAP, which may or may not be useful, depending on how much enthusiasm there is for that standard. For variety's sake, I also bought, XML Unleashed, a bulky book with not as much organization, but just a lot of code (unlike the professional xml book, which really explained almost everything well). XML unleashed is helpful, because its topics really don't overlap with professional xml. It discusses SMIL, parsing xml with java xml tools on the market, using asp with xml and different subsets of xml (vml, and a variety of other specialized languages specific to one discipline. Unleashed is good because it contains discussions (albeit rather brief) of several different languages. Professional XML sticks to explanations and analysis, a lot of microsoft stuff (but not asp, and not too much stuff that linux lovers would want to reject the book. Finally I want to mention another book which I used as a first tutorial, Just XML by John Simpson. It's the best written of the three, although a little bizzare humor sometimes. It was written in late 1998 so some things may not be up-to-date (however simpson does a good job of emphasizing the things that weren't likely to change). This would be a good book for people starting, or if the book were available used. It would also be good when simpson publishes the second edition (later this year).
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on July 31, 2002
It is easy to tell that this book was written by 12 different authors. The quality and writing style of each chapter varies widely. I thought the chapters on XPath, XSLT, DOM, SAX2, and SOAP were well written, but I was disappointed by some of the others.
The chapter on XML Schemas was the worst, in my opinion. This is a very important subject, but it is given the same amount of space as much less important topics. As a result, the author of this chapter tries to cover too much in too little space and ends up being quite confusing. Examples are thrown out followed by only partial explanations, and the author forgets to do some basic things like showing a sample XML document to match the sample XML Schemas in the examples. If you need to understand XML Schemas, skip this chapter and go directly to "Professional XML Schemas," which is very well written book on the subject.
This book is also too large and attempts to cover too many obscure topics. For example, it wastes a chapter on "XML Schema Alternatives" when it is clear that XML Schema is the approach that will be used by almost everyone going forward.
Finally, my standard complaint about all WROX books is that the font they use is too small! I feel like I'm reading a telephone book. Give the readers a break by taking out some of the less important chapters and increasing the font size.
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on March 20, 2000
I've found this book very hard to understand as a first book on XML. If you know what XML is about but are looking for practical real-life exemples, look elsewhere. If you know XML and want to know everything about it's internal work and how to work with DTD, that would be your book.
I've also ordered the Professional XML IE5 Programmer's Reference at the same time and this book gave me an overview of what I can do with XML on the Internet and THEN I had an idea of what to do of the Professional XML book.
You have to ask you those questions : Do I need to know how to show XML with XSL, ASP, DHTML, HTML? If yes, look elsewhese first. Do I need an XML reference to know how to create XML files? If yes, look no further.
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on June 1, 2002
For experienced XML developers, the book may be useful as a reference. However, I cannot recommend it as a tutorial. The book goes into far too much arcane detail about subjects such as character sets (UNICODE, etc...), entity and attribute naming conventions, and so forth; while giving examples somewhat short shrift. It does not develop topics from the simple to the complex - rather, it examines each topic in mind-boggling detail, with the result that one has not digested the basics of a topic before being overwhelmed with the specifics.
Perhaps as I gain experience with XML this book will become more useful, but for now I'll be looking for a more basic reference.
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on July 14, 2002
Please allow me to speak out in a straight way about the book since I think it is necessary to do it.
I chose this book for my XML course of computer science major. During the course of my teaching, I have kept finding many vague and deficient concepts, few practical guides in each chapter, errors in codes, which are not fully tested, and not well-organized conceptual structures in the book.
I am sorry to say that I don't think the book should be seen as professional book because it does NOT go deep enough in any chapter that a professional needs. But the book provides many reference links, and it gives you a broad talk about XML and some related applications.
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on November 21, 2000
I get tired of books which are poorly annotated, cut and paste jobs of specifications I can get on the Web with fancy titles that promise a whole lot and deliver little.
I bought this book because it shows how XML can solve architectural problems that exist with some Web technologies. These guys have put into the book a lot of thinking that you won't pick up from a spec or some other dry books on the subject.
Full marks for their easy writing style which gives meaning and interest to something that is really quite boring.
I have bought other books on XML which will probably keep me warm this winter for a while.
I'd recommend this book to everyone.
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on February 21, 2000
If you have started to play with XML but need to know where to go, this is the book for you. I rate this one as a "must have" book from Wrox just like the Professional ASP book... both are the top books on the market in their respective fields. I am using XML for content transformation and for Server to Server solutions so I was getting stuff done (in xml) but still had lots of questions. This book covers all the basic stuff and goes into some future technology as well but for the most part this book is for the working programmer who has to produce code quickly but couldn't figure everything out from site hopping.
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on April 26, 2004
This book is awful. I can't believe my college used it as a text. this book stuffers the same problems as every other Wrox Press book. It sucks. It's over written because obviously a book with more pages is informative, it's rushed to press, as you can tell by having to have 13 or so authors pound it out practically over night. The book doesn't cover anything well it's written poorly, so poorly eventually I just started skipping around and defacing the book in class. It's amazing I've only owned 2 or 3 other books this bad and honestly their all Wrox Press that Red Cover is a big stop sign. AVOID THEM ALL THEIR ALL CRAP
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on December 21, 2000
This book covers XML and the related Technologies reasonably in depth but the examples are disappointing. Most of the chapters in this book use one XML file, I repeat, just one file! - a "book catalog" to base the examples. And some of them revolve around a similar file - again related to "book catalog".
The book also contains yet another unfocused chapter from the authors of Pro. XML with servlets and JSP. A web portal to buy stamps of a couple of European countries using US currency 8-<
If you are looking for some case studies of applications that use XML, buy Applied XML Solutions.
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