Customer Reviews: XML in a Nutshell, Third Edition
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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. Now, much of this quick reference information can be freely had on the Web. I'd recommend the book only to those who are fortunate enough to have someone else cover their book expenses, or can get it from their library, or those who simply adore print documentation.
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on November 6, 2004
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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on March 4, 2005
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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on April 30, 2005
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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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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on March 10, 2006
I took this book as it was a recommended book for one my courses.. i thought it would be same as other text books, where you actually LEARN THRU THE BOOK..

But this book is STRICTLY for a reference purpose.. I had to take another book to learn the basics of XML.. also, the net tutorials helped a lot..

Though, as a reference book, I'll give full points to it.. once you have the basic knowledge about XML, you can really use this book to its optimum level, and it really helps you to refer ALL the types in XML..

So if you are starting to learn XML, I would advise to take a simpler book, like "XML Applications" and go through the net too.. but once you are done with the basics, buy this book the very next day, and check out what all wonders you can do through XML!!!...
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VINE VOICEon March 15, 2005
In my opinion, XML In A Nutshell is the definitive reference for XML syntax and use. I've had this book on my desk since the first edition. Now at edition 3, this book just keeps getting better and better. It covers virtually every XML standard, provides lots of examples, and has a character set reference that I couldn't live without. Highly recommended for all XML questions.

Like many of the "Nutshell" books, this book starts off with a lot of informational chapters, designed to give a high level view of many XML-related technologies. These chapters, while a bit vague in parts, are still very good and will answer most general questions. However, when you have a deeper question, the reference chapters in the second half of the book really shine. The reference material is well organized, making information easy to find and digest.

Personally, my favorite chapters are the XPath Reference and the XSLT Reference sections.

Anyone who works with XML on a daily basis should have this book at their desk. This is the one book to have on XML.
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on November 1, 2007
This book is by far the best book I've read on XML. Typical of O'Reilly "In a Nutshell" books, the converage of XML is fast paced and complete. Your money will be well spent on this book. I even think most beginners will do well with this one!
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on March 4, 2007
This book claims to be your only needed guide in XML and related topics. It covers almost all you can imagine. I liked it very much and glad, that I have a book, that I can use like XML reference.

I have just nothing to say about this book except it contains ALL information one can need on XML.
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on April 24, 2011
If the intricacies of XML are already part of your computing life or are about to become so, this book provides a good reference which you will not quickly outgrow. It makes a useful distinction between narrative-centric and data-centric XML and provides reliable guidance on working with both types of structure. This will almost certainly not be the only book on XML that you will ever buy, but, budget permitting, it should probably be one of them.
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