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XML in a Nutshell, Third Edition Paperback – September 30, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0596007645 ISBN-10: 0596007647 Edition: Third Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)
  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; Third Edition edition (September 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596007647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596007645
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Elliotte Rusty Harold is originally from New Orleans to which he returns periodically in search of a decent bowl of gumbo. However, he currently resides in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn with his wife Beth, dog Shayna, and cat Marjorie (named after his mother-in-law). He's a frequent speaker at industry conferences including Software Development, Dr. Dobb's Architecure & Design World, SD Best Practices, Extreme Markup Languages, and too many user groups to count. His open source projects include the XOM Library for processing XML with Java and the Amateur media player.

W. Scott Means has been a professional software developer since 1988, when he joined Microsoft Corporation at the age of 17. He was one of the original developers of OS/2 1.1 and Windows NT, and did some of the early work on the Microsoft Network for the Microsoft Advanced Technology and Business Development group. Since then he has written software for everything from multiplayer casino games to railroad geometry measurement equipment. For Scott's latest projects and musings on software development, visit his blog at

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Customer Reviews

Very useful and well written.
Deepak Verma
Anyone who works with XML on a daily basis should have this book at their desk.
The book is fairly high level.
Jack D. Herrington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
O'Reilly's XML IN A NUTSHELL is, like all entries in the Nutshell series, a desktop quick reference. It provides concise information about nearly all matters of XML, and is split into roughly four parts. The first introduces XML, the concept of tags, well-formedness, Unicode, DTD's and schemas, namespaces, and so forth. The second provides an overview for the many formats that are built upon XML, such as XHTML, XSL:FO, Docbook, etc., and technologies that plug-in into XML, namely XSLT, XPath, XLinks, XPointers, XInclude, and CSS. The fourth covers DOM and SAX, the APIs for dealing with XML. Finally, the book ends with a "Reference section" for various technologies covered earlier in the book, structured much like O'Reilly's pocket guides. I found the Reference section somewhat inconvenient, it causes flipping back and forth when each section could have been simply integrated with the previous discussion of the relevant technology earlier in the book. Furthermore, the book ends with a long series of Unicode character tables, which are of limited utility, as they cover only a portion of Unicode, which has already expanded in the time since, and these tables simply bloat the book a little.

This third edition is especially admirable for its advocation of schemas, whereas many other XHTML publications would mention only DTDs.

XML IN A NUTSHELL is emphatically not a tutorial for XML, in spite of the friendly introduction to the markup language that opens the book. For each of the technologies mentioned herein, you'll want a separate book. For XPath especially, O'Reilly's XPATH AND XPOINTER is worth getting. XML IN A NUTSHELL instead provides only a quick reference for matters the reader is already acquainted with.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jack D. Herrington on November 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a combination field guide and terse standards reference for XML. It covers an amazing variety of XML standards. From the fundamentals of XML, through the document standards, and into transformation technologies like XSLT. Standards include; XML, XPath, XLink, XSLT, XSL-FO, XML Schema, DTDs, among others. The book also cover some standards that use XML, like SAX and DOM.

The book is fairly high level. It assumes that you know the basics and need a complete reference for the technologies. This is that case with all of the Nutshell books, but given the amount of technologies this books cover, the coverage is fairly terse.

The organization of the book is great. There are only a few illustrations and they are used effectively. A solid reference for anyone who works with XML technologies on a daily basis. Highly recommended.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Aramaki on March 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
They might as well take out the first half of the book at trying to teach beginners XML. The reason being that the writing style is confusing, full of long run-on sentences, with few to no examples for demonstration. As a reference book, this is probably a flawless companion. And it does say that it's intended for experienced developers. The tutorial chapters serve well as reviews and tips if the person already knows some XML. Also, make sure you check the book's web site, it has a long errata list, so get ready to correct those errors. If you're a beginner to XML, this isn't the book to start out with. I recommend "Beginning XML - 3rd Edition" by Wrox Press as your first XML book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Deepak Verma on April 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
The organization of the book is great. Very useful and well written. It provides quick-reference syntax rules and usage examples for the core XML technologies, including XML, DTDs, Xpath, XSLT, SAX, and DOM. Develop an understanding of well-formed XML, DTDs, namespaces, Unicode, and W3C XML Schema.

This new edition is the comprehensive XML reference. Serious users of XML will find coverage on just about everything they need, from fundamental syntax rules, to details of DTD and XML Schema creation, to XSLT transformations, to APIs used for processing XML documents.

The initial chapter on SAX along with the reference chapter would give me a solid foundational base from which to work. If you need explanation of how a technology works, or just need to quickly find the precise syntax for a particular piece, XML in a Nutshell puts the information at your fingertips. I would recommend this book to someone interested in its topic. This book has earned a valued place on my reference shelf.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By W Boudville HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
How much XML do you need to know? Me, I read and write XML daily in my programs. But without having to support legacy data, I've found that I can use a very minimal subject to good effect. No mixed content, no attributes in tags, etc. So I can use SAX very easily. And I only need a small subset of this book.

But chances are that you may not be in such an easy situation. You might have to transform XML data using XSLT. While conceptually simple, the details are complex. So the book's section on XSLT can be vital. Another usage context is when you have to do some kind of search within XML data. The purview of XPath, XPointer and XLink. More good stuff to lookup here for explanations.

Harold writes fluently about XML. He has several other well received books on XML. So technically, you can rely on this book to get the details right. But few of you should need to know all of this book. XML has grown vastly, to serve increasingly different and specialised needs. The book tries to address the totality of these needs. So don't be intimidated if you see chapters that you are totally unaware of. I'm in the same boat as you, and so are many others.
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