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XSLT Programmer's Reference 2nd Edition Paperback – April, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

Written by a true expert in the field, Michael Kay's XSLT, Second Edition is a thorough and truly informative guide to using XSLT and XML for real projects. With plenty of in-depth information on current standards and tools, this tutorial and reference is all any working developer needs to implement XSLT-based applications effectively.

The book is remarkable in its wide-ranging perspective on XML and XSLT, plus it contains a complete reference to all elements and keywords used in XSLT and XPath. The author has created his own open-source implementation of XSLT and thus writes knowledgeably about all current XML standards. Early sections explain the larger strategies of using XSLT to transform XML data for browsers or for B2B systems. Clear diagrams--and short sample documents--are used to explain where XSLT fits into the big picture of today's XML-based systems. The book has plenty to say about new and emerging standards, so you can plan effectively for what's on the horizon.

The core of the book is its 400-page alphabetical reference on every XSL element, expression, and function (including XPath for querying and specifying XML data). Each entry is amply illustrated with example code and hints for using each feature correctly. You also get plenty of rules for using common XSL features effectively, along with sample usage.

Later sections of the book look at "design patterns" for types of XSLT style sheets, including simple fill-in-the-blanks and more advanced rule-based and computation style sheets. There are also digestible examples of XSLT used to format a long text document (for the XML standard itself), genealogy data (for a family tree), and a chess problem. Several appendices provide information on several popular XML and XSLT tools, including Microsoft MSXML3, the author's own Saxon XSLT processor, and Apache's Xalan tool.

With its mix of practical advice and solid reference matter, this book is a perfect choice for any developer working with XML and XSLT who needs a reliable guide to these important and groundbreaking technologies. --Richard Dragan

Topics covered:

  • Introduction and reference to XSLT standards
  • Basics of transforming XML with XSLT, XPath, XPointer, and related XML standards
  • The XML tree model
  • Transforming XML (including push and pull processing)
  • XSLT variables, expressions, and datatypes
  • The structure of style sheets (including top-level elements and template bodies)
  • Comprehensive reference to all XSLT elements, expressions, patterns, and functions
  • Creating extension functions for XSLT in Java and JavaScript
  • Style sheet design patterns (fill-in-the-blanks, navigational, rule-based, and computational style sheets)
  • Sample XSLT code for formatting a large document (with the XML specification)
  • A family tree (with genealogical data) and chess data (the Knight's tour problem)
  • Appendices and references for XSLT/XML tools (including Microsoft MSXML3, Oracle Java XSLT processor, the Saxon processor, and Apache Xalan)

From the Publisher

This book has been selected by the editors of Wrox Press to be part of the Wroxbase website.

This book is for programmers already using XML to organize their data in applications and for those who want to use the power and compatibility of XSLT to improve the display of their data. The book is in three parts: a detailed introduction to the concepts of the language, a reference section giving comprehensive specifications and working examples of every feature, and an exploitation guide giving advice and case studies for the advanced user.


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Product Details

  • Series: Programmer to Programmer
  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Peer Information; 1st edition (April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861005067
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861005069
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 2.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,301,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful By John Tompkins on May 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
1. This is really a reference, not a tutorial. It does include a "no nonsense tutorial" which will guide you through the basic XSLT topics, but if you have no XML experience, start with one of the more basic Wrox offerings. (David Hunter's Beginning XML -- which I hear will be excellent -- is going to be released by Wrox early in June.)
2. If you are unclear on the purposes of XSLT, understand that it is a programming language for converting data, performing scripting tasks, etc. on the way to a pure HTML or XML layout. I only mention this because some developers seem to be operating under the mistaken belief that XSLT is an appropriate subject for graphic designers, perhaps because XSLT contains the word "style." Do NOT get this book for your design staff.
3. Not a major hurdle for most of us, but some implementations, such as Xalan, are not covered.
That aside, this is a fantastic book. Everything I can think of in the XSL arena is covered, including extending XSL. The author, Michael Kay, who was such a force on the Professional XML team, once again proves to be an excellent writer. The browser specific details are just what I needed to solve many of my real-world production problems. And I continue to be amazed at the speed with which Wrox gets these comprehensive volumes to press.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Francois Theberge on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
The well-balanced blend of highly technical details, precise and carefully crafted examples are made very agreeable by Michael Kay's outstanding writing style. No fluff, nor arcane technical hocus-pocus that leaves the reader dazzed and kerflumoxed. Althought this book is not a tutorial, I found it highly motivating for self-teaching.
The first 3 chapters explains a) what is XSLT b)how it works c)what makes it works (structure). It guides you clearly, in detail, trouhgt this crucial first example ("Greetings") so you're not stuck wondering HOW to make this stuff work. Explanations are to the point, and crucial relationships are put in context without verbosis.
Chapters 4 to 7 is the Reference section, the nitty-gritty details of each feature of XSLT. That'll help a lot when trying to fly on your own. This is followed by "Worked Examples" again beautifully explained.
Then, the tools. Not a mere URL reference to "Download this and you'll do just fine, mate!" but a hands-on guide to the nuts and bolts of each of them. Very helpful!
I read 7 books so far on XML/XSL. Kay's book is the gem that stands out way above from the crowd. A winner!
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mike Kraley on June 29, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a truly outstanding book. Of the very many computer books I have read, this is one of the top 5.
As other reviews have correctly stated, this is neither a tutorial nor an introductory text. But if you have been working with XML/XSL for even a little while, the dearth of complete and accurate documentation becomes onerous. I have spent untold hours experimenting with variations of syntax to get the desired results, never really understanding what I was doing. After reading this book, so many of the mysteries and black magic incantations I had built developed now become clear.
This is a deeply detailed reference book, and it is very much written from the perspective of an author of an XSLT parser. You get innumerable details about all sorts of arcana. But once you get beyond some very simple stylesheets, I have found that you often need this kind of detail to help you understand exactly what is going on.
The heavy slogging thru the material is greatly aided by Mr. Kay's refreshing writing style. He completely avoids the fluff, illiteracy, or arrogance so common in technical writing. His language is precise, yet easy to read. Most commendable are his examples. Rather than the trivial, artificial or non-sensical example we often see, each example here (and there are LOTS of them) is well-crafted, well-explained, and relevant to a real-world task.
Another astounding fact is the relative sparseness of typos and errors. As an author myself, I know that computer publishers rush to print with all sorts of egregious errors that are very disruptive. Although I did encounter a very few errors in this book, Mr. Kay and Wrox are to be commended highly for a very professional first edition.
A monumental writing job, excellently done. This belongs on the bookshelf of anyone who is seriously involved in XSL work.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By carpenterCook on September 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have read numerous texts on XML, some of which refer to XSLT in a passing way. This is the first book that fully documents and explains the usage of XSLT Most other texts rely on a single example to illustrate their message. Which is fine unless the example has nothing to do with your real life problem. Michael Kay takes the more difficult path of describing the subject through the use of abstract ideas, thereby applying the explanation to a wider realm of experience. The book is structured in a manner that I wish more authors would follow. The first part, chapters 1-3 explain the concepts of the XSLT language. This part, although challenging, is worth reading closely. Ample examples elucidate the concepts presented. Chapters 4-7 are a reference on the language itself. The information is precise and all encompassing. Chapters 8-10 present examples of using the language in real world situations, or as Kay states: "developing real industrial applications." If there is a fault to find, it would lie in the presentation of the XSLT products in chapter 10. A more in-depth description of the usage of Xalan, for example, would have been greatly appreciated. At the present time, to use this product you are armed with the API and that's about it. Getting a process up and running is still a challenge. But, given the state of the industry, it's not surprising that this area was not more fleshed out. In summation, I can only agree with the previous reviews and state that this is THE reference to have on XSLT.
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