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Learning XML, Second Edition 2nd Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596004200
ISBN-10: 0596004206
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Although Learning XML covers XML rather broadly, it nevertheless presents the key elements of the technology with enough detail to familiarize the reader with this 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 more 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 graphics, tables, and code to demonstrate concepts along the way, keeping the reader engaged and on track. Ray also goes deep into some discussion of programming XML utilities with Perl.

Learning XML is a very readable introduction to XML for readers with existing knowledge of markup and Web technologies. It meets its goals very well--to deliver a broad perspective of XML and its potential. --Stephen W. Plain

Topics covered:

  • XML overview
  • XPointer
  • XLink
  • Presentation with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
  • Document Type Definitions (DTDs)
  • XML Schemas
  • Transformation with XSLT
  • Internationalization
  • Simple API for XML (SAX)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"...this is not a skimpy overview of XML, but rather a complete introduction to Extensible Markup Language that quickly provides the web developer with a grounding in both how to use it, and what to use it for. The beginner will appreciate the outlining of markup elements, the demystification of concepts, and the code examples aplenty to play with. Those with a basic understanding will like the lack of bloat, and will still find it a useful reference to dip back into when hit by an attack of 'what the heck to I do now', which we all know only too well. Whether you need to get to grips with core concepts, top up your knowledge of Xlink and Xpointer specs, go back to language syntax basics or investigate schemas such as W3C Schema, Schmatron and RELAX-NG, you'll find it all here." Davey Winder, PC Plus, March (7/10)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (October 2, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596004206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596004200
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
By page 177 I realized that I was never going to touch a keyboard while reading this book. I can't speak for everyone, but when I pick up a book expecting to learn the topic, I need theory, reference, examples and structured "assignments". This title offers the first three, but I never get to apply what I am learning hands-on in a graduated fashion. When I am finished, I have little more than the ability to recognize the components of XML. Just because you can recognize all the foods in a grocery store, and know the origins of all the spices on your spice rack, doesn't mean you can cook; the same principal applies here. I am fully aware that XML is comprised of many different elements, and many of the XML development environments are very expensive, but many are free and could have been used to teach the concept clearer.
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.
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Format: Paperback
SHORT: I highly recommend this book if you know HTML and have some exposure to CSS; it's a good intro book to XML, which is what it's intended to be. The end result is that you'll know enough to get started with more technical books, and where to go for available web resources.
LONGER: The reasons that other people have given for not liking this book are some of the same reasons that I find it useful. I'm pretty well-versed in HTML and have some basic understanding of JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets. This book goes into detail about both and gives comparisons and evolutions that involve XML. I'm about halfway through it at the moment, and it's giving me a clear, not-to-technical view of XML. The other books I have go straight into the code, telling me HOW but not really explaining the WHY of everything. That's what makes this book great to me. The first half deals with explanation and presentation, while the last half is more code-heavy. The two other books I have strive to be highly technical, but proved to be a bit overwhelming for me as a complete newbie to the subject of XML.
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I am a C, Unix Shell, and Perl programmer. This means that I have a lot of interaction with XML.
I'm not really interested in sitting down and learning XML because I wouldnt actually go and write it myself. There are plenty of perl modules (XML::Parser, XML::Twig, and so on) that will do that for me. However, I wanted to have some understanding of what XML actually was, and how to read it if I were presented in it.
This book started very slow and very easily, and moved into some more advanced (if a little more dry) subject matter. The author uses witty, enjoyable examples, and is very clear at all times about what is being explained.
I would recommend this to most programmers who want to just "know what XML is all about," as it isnt particularly technical (if you are just skimming), and its technical enough for people to get into if need be. It also covers most topics very thoroughly.
Another gem from OReilly.
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Format: Paperback
The book "Learning XML" by Eric T. Ray is a basic introduction to XML. It covers the markup elements, links, presentation, data type definition, transformations and programming for XML.

The book is truly for the novice. The very basic concepts are introduced and illustrated in great detail. The text is written quite well, and the illustrations do help to understand the presented concepts and examples.

The first chapters on the core concepts, the markup elements, links and presentation in XML describe all syntax elements using a graphical syntax illustration. The components of syntax elements are clearly labeled and referred to in the text. The application of all elements is further illustrated with simple examples that concentrate on the essence of the different markup elements.

The chapter on DTDs is equally well written and DTD concepts and syntax elements are introduced in the same careful way as the markup elements in the first chapters. I would have expected more than 4 pages on XML schema. Yes, it's still a draft, but the basic behavior and structure are pretty well defined by now, and parsers accepting XML schema are available.

The text has a couple of chapters and sections that disappointed me. The chapter on transformations isn't structured as well as the rest of the book and contains a 20 page long, undocumented and uncommented example of an XSLT transformation program. This example has not been written by the author, and that might be reason it is not explained in detail, but at least a few comments would have been nice.

The last chapter on programming for XML is the most disappointing one. The elements of an XML processor are only introduced very briefly.
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