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XSLT: Programmer's Reference (Programmer to Programmer) [Paperback]

by Michael Kay
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 3, 2001 0764543814 978-0764543814 2
What is this book about?

This compact, relevant, updated version reflects recent changes in the XSLT specification and developments in XSLT parsers. The material on tools and implementations has been revised; so too have all the examples. It also includes a new chapter on writing extension functions.

XML has firmly established itself as the universal standard for managing data for the web and is now being implemented on a wide scale.

XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language), a vital companion to XML, is used for two main purposes: to format or style XML data so that it can be displayed in a browser and to transform XML data (XSLT). When you transform an XML document, you manipulate the data into a new structure, for example, re-ordering the data. This enables the same data store to be used in an unlimited number of ways. XSLT is a flexible, customizable, and cross-platform language.

XSLT is a notoriously difficult language to understand, but this book, while being a complete reference to the recommendation, will also give code examples showing how it all ties together and can be effectively employed in a real-world development scenario.

What does this book cover?

In this book, you'll find the following topics covered:

  • The rationale behind XSLT: What is it for?
  • The XSLT processing model
  • Design patterns and stylesheet structure
  • A full reference to the XPath and XSLT languages
  • The use of XSLT with worked examplesCurrently available XSLT processors - updated to reflect recent advances in XSLT parser technology
  • Coverage of proposed specification enhancements

Who is this book for?

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.

Editorial Reviews Review

As XML begins to take hold, the eXtensible Stylesheet Language: Transformation (XSLT) standard will be playing a major role in making all those XML predictions a reality. Author Michael Kay exudes enthusiasm in this guide, XSLT Programmer's Reference, by taking every opportunity to illustrate the power and flexibility of XSLT.

Kay calls XSLT the "SQL of the Web"--a phrase that is sure to perk up the ears of many readers expecting a simple documentation of just another Web-language standard. Like other Wrox Programmer's Reference series titles, this book starts off with chapters that rapidly introduce the concepts and set the context for the core of the book, which is a complete documentation of the XSLT standard. The book uses this space well to explore the transformation process and the tree structure that is used for both input and output of style sheet documents. By the time the reader gets to the reference section of the book, he or she will be convinced of the power of XSLT.

Each element of XSLT is covered with concise examples that include both the source XML code and style sheet code. XSLT style sheets can be used in a variety of ways and across a wide spectrum of complexity. The book helps the reader grasp this concept by presenting four style-sheet design patterns that comprise the vast majority of implementations. The text looks at each, demonstrating how to identify the design pattern by its content and apply it to appropriate circumstances.

XSLT is the true muscle behind XML and is integral to putting XML to work in the real world. This title is simply a must-have for any developer utilizing XML. --Stephen W. Plain

Topics covered:

  • XSLT transformation processing model
  • Style sheet structure
  • XSLT element reference
  • Expressions patterns
  • Functions
  • Style-sheet design patterns
  • Case studies
  • Saxon
  • Xalan
  • xt
  • Microsoft MSXML3
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

XSLT Programmer's Reference is a compact, up to date and relevant explanation of the W3C's XSLT and XPath recommendations, including any material that they rely on from referenced specifications such as XML, XML Namespaces, IEEE and Java. XSLT is a notoriously difficult language to understand, but this book, while being a complete reference to the recommendation, will also give code examples showing how it all ties together and can be effectively employed in a real world development scenario. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Programmer to Programmer
  • Paperback: 992 pages
  • Publisher: Wrox; 2 edition (May 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764543814
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764543814
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,369,155 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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best!...with a capital "B" August 13, 2000
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 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 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Excellent, Excellent September 20, 2000
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The XSLT 1.0 Bible
I'm biased towards this book vs. newer editions, since I [like many of us] am still forced to use a XSLT 1.0 implementation.

For that, this book is the bible. Read more
Published on January 25, 2009 by E. Welker
2.0 out of 5 stars Almost unusable
This book, as the other reviewers have said, is an awful beginning or reference text for XSLT.

I have to whip up an XSL transform only a few times a year, so I never... Read more
Published on December 19, 2007 by Matthew Crawford
4.0 out of 5 stars Wealth of information obscured by the editing, writing, and...
This review is for "XSLT: Programmer's Reference 2nd Edition." The book covers XSLT 1.0 and XPath 1.0. Read more
Published on June 4, 2007 by S. Tang
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable for XSLT Developers
I just finished up about 3 years on a job where one of my primary functions was editing, troubleshooting, teaching, and writing XSLT. Read more
Published on March 23, 2007 by C. Howell
1.0 out of 5 stars Look Elsewhere for XSLT Book
This is the worst technical book I've ever used. There is no organization to it, and there is redundant information, especially in the elements listing section. Read more
Published on March 5, 2006 by Cranko
2.0 out of 5 stars Very tough and unordered reading
It is a pity but I have to write I am not satisfied with the book. It is kind of a book which does not concetrate on the main purpose of a reading - "to learn something". Read more
Published on December 8, 2005 by P. Kleja
5.0 out of 5 stars Well organized, well written, well published... Well done!
As other's have noted, this book presents all the relevant information in a logical order with clear and well-designed examples, leading the reader from basics to complexities. Read more
Published on August 29, 2005 by Kulero
4.0 out of 5 stars The book for every serious XML programmer.
M. Kay is savvy fellow, very careful formulation with excellent examples. I recommend though buying the XSLT 2.0 book, as the present XSLT 1. Read more
Published on February 28, 2005 by S. Papantoniou
5.0 out of 5 stars Not much to complain about here
This book has helped me out of a jam more often than I care to remember. If you are stuck with programming with XSLT, you should take a good look at this title. Read more
Published on August 1, 2004 by Adrian Samberger
5.0 out of 5 stars A good intro to a tough topic
XSLT is almost the official programming language of XML - in fact, it uses XML as its representation. Read more
Published on May 26, 2004 by wiredweird
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