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Structuring XML Documents Paperback – January 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Not recommended for newcomers to XML, Structuring XML Documents immediately launches into document type definitions (DTDs), the book's main topic. Megginson's goal is to delve into the heart of XML through the use of DTDs. "Though the book necessarily deals with some of the idiosyncrasies of XML and SGML DTDs and uses XML syntax in its examples," he explains, "it deals with issues--such as learning, usability and ease of processing--that all document designers and analysts must understand, whether or not they use XML or SGML and whether they use DTD syntax or other notations to define their structures." Anyone unfamiliar with the basic concepts of XML would do well to steer to another title; anyone ready to use XML and plan the necessary architecture for its implementation will appreciate Megginson's authority.

From Library Journal

Megginso offers an extensive discussion of document type definition (DTD): syntax, the DTD model, DTD analysis, processing, compatibility, customization, and architectural design. For advanced users.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Charles F. Goldfarb Series on Open Information Management
  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall (January 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0136422993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0136422990
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,145,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen Brennan on October 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is not meant to be a tutorial or a programming guide. All of the programming books in the world could not save you if your DTDs are not well designed. A DTD needs to be both constrained enough to be learnable and usable, and flexible enough to accommodate different and unexpected information structures. This book does a great job of expressing the underlying conceptual issues such as logical units, hierarchical information relationships, and modularity and reusability. Information architects and designers, technical writers and editors, people in the information science field who are studying XML, and anyone who's already learned their way around XML and want to go to a deeper level will find this book valuable. I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 because I would have liked to see more about how to analyze the inherent data structures in your documents in order to build the best DTDs - but it still gives you enough to chew on in that area.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 1998
Format: Paperback
It is said (with some validity) that XML will save the web. In particular, it will make it possible to present data in useful forms, along with tools to manipulate it. This book is specifically about using XML with *documents*, however. SGML is rooted in document production, and XML shows those roots clearly. However, there are many non-document oriented applications of XML, which are outside the scope of this book.
Instead, if you are using XML for document production, or are developing a new document handling system and are considering XML, this book contains many valuable lessons. It presents a number of design principles, in the context of five widely used DTDs: Docbook, CALS, TEI, EPSIG, and HTML.
It is *particularly* enlightening to see the comparisons with HTML. point by point, the author shows convincing DTD design creteria, demonstrates how they affect ease of use and ease of maintenance... and then casually shows just how poor HTML is as an example of! these principals. The other DTDs are not, of course, perfect, but they *do* show design skill and suitability for document use; HTML completely fails to. After reading this analysis, you will be left wondering why you ever thought HTML was "structured" in any way.
The author covers his ground with extreme thoroughness. He makes it very clear where he is going at all times, what he expects you to learn, and what pitfalls arise directly from poor design. The book is well structured, and gives evidence of a single very organized mind, in its construction, even down to the introduction to the last chapter where the author warns that you might want to "stop now and try applying" the techniques covered, before exploring certain more advanced and subtle areas.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book delivers exactly what it says it will: the _whole_ gist on the technical aspects of drafting a Document Type Definition and on the theoretical aspects of defining an optimal way of structuring information. The author dominates his subject and his discussion on the fine points of information structuring is clever and challenging.
The only thing that is keeping me from giving it an otherwise well-deserved five-star is the utterly meagre index, a surprising fact in such a book!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jimmy Snyder on February 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book for someone who is responsible for creating and maintaining dtds for large projects. The purpose of the book is not to teach the beginner what a dtd is. Rather it is meant to teach you to tell the difference between good dtd design and bad. The emphasis is on dtds that are for complex documents rather than those that are for transmission of database records. None the less, some of the material applies to both types of dtds. The author does not tell you what to do. Rather he tells you what issues you need to consider. There is a section that warns you of the problems that may arrise during the maintenance phase of a project. When a change is made to a dtd, there may be a backlog of legacy documents that were valid according to the old dtd but are no longer valid with the new one. I think this section of the book is a bit too methodical and long-winded. Even so the issue is crucial and needs some treatment.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. Ilic on June 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is great if you are looking on how to design DTDs. For that you need to already know about XML. It is not a "software" book in the sense that it does not have a line of code and it does not explain to you how to "program" XML. I have already read some books about XML and how to program it. I wanted a book which could explain to me how to design a DTD so I could create my own XML application. I found that book! However, before you buy this book, make sure that it really corresponds to what you are looking for.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Zane Parks on October 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is not a book for beginners. There's a brief introduction to XML, but you need a fairly good grounding there before picking this book up. The author uses five industrial-strength model DTDs for documents as a basis for discussing the analysis and design of DTDs. These are briefly introduced, compared and contrasted. HTML is one of the five, not so much because it's a good example, but because it's widely known and used. The heart of the book is devoted to principles for analysis and design. These focus on the user -- ease of learning, of use, and of processing. Some desirable features tend to conflict, for example, there's a trade-off between simplicity and providing sufficient features to meet authors needs. Throughout the model DTDs are used to illustrate principled (or unprincipled) desgin. All in all, the book provides a good basis for reading, writing and understanding non-trivial, real-world DTDs.
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