Beginning XML

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Overview


XML is the latest buzz-word on the internet. It's a rapidly maturing technology with powerful real-world applications, particularly for the management, display and organization of data. Together with its display language (XSL) and the standardized Document Object Model, it is essential technology for anyone looking for more efficient and cost effective ways of both managing and transfering data. Perhaps the most well known applications are web related (especially with the latest developments in handheld web ...
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Overview


XML is the latest buzz-word on the internet. It's a rapidly maturing technology with powerful real-world applications, particularly for the management, display and organization of data. Together with its display language (XSL) and the standardized Document Object Model, it is essential technology for anyone looking for more efficient and cost effective ways of both managing and transfering data. Perhaps the most well known applications are web related (especially with the latest developments in handheld web access - for which the technology is XML-based). But there are many other non-web based applications where XML is useful - for example as a replacement for (or to complement) traditional databases or for the transfer of financial information between businesses.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781861003416
  • Publisher: Wrox Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/2000
  • Series: Programmer to Programmer Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 856
  • Product dimensions: 7.31 (w) x 9.27 (h) x 1.82 (d)

Meet the Author


Kurt Cagle is a writer and developer specializing in XML and Internet related issues. He has written eight books and more than one hundred articles on topics ranging from Visual Basic programming to the impact of the Internet on society, and has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Nordstrom, AT&T and others.

Dave Gibbons is President of Cardboard String Media and creator of XMLephant.com. He has written over 20 books on technology.

David Hunter is a consultant and software architect for MobileQ.com and has had extensive experience building scalable n-tier applications, using Internet technologies. David also provides training on XML, and software development best practices.

Nikola Ozu is an independent systems architect who lives in Wyoming. Recent work has included an XML vocabulary for architects, and the design of a production and full-text indexing system for a publisher of medical reference books and databases.

Jonathan Pinnock is an independent developer and consultant based in the City of London. He is the author of "Professional DCOM Application Development" and co-author of "Professional XML" and "Professional Linux Deployment".

Paul Spencer is senior partner and managing consultant at Boynings Consulting, which specializes in advising companies on the business and technical implications of XML. He has carried out work and provided XML training for several of the largest UK companies and is an XML advisor to the UK government.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 2: Well-Formed XML

We've discussed some of the reasons why XML makes sense for communicating data, so now let's get our hands dirty and learn how to create our own XML documents. This chapter will cover all you need to know to create "well-formed" XML.

Well-formed XML is XML that meets certain grammatical rules outlined in the XML 1.0 specification.

You will learn:

  • How to create XML elements using start- and end-tags
  • How to further describe elements with attributes
  • How to declare your document as being XML
  • How to send instructions to applications that are processing the XML document
  • Which characters aren't allowed in XML, and how to put them in anyway
Because XML and HTML appear so similar, and because you're probably already familiar with HTML, we'll be making comparisons between the two languages in this chapter. However, if you don't have any knowledge of HTML, you shouldn't find it too hard to follow along.

If you have Internet Explorer 5, you may find it useful to save some of the examples in this chapter on your hard drive, and view the results in the browser. If you don't have IE5, some of the examples will have screenshots to show what the end results look like.

Tags and Text and Elements, Oh My!

It's time to stop calling things just "items" and "text"; we need some names for the pieces that make up an XML document. To get cracking, let's break down the simple document we created in Chapter 1:

<name>
<first>John</first>
<middle>Fitzgerald Johansen</middle>
<last>Doe</last>
</name>

The words between the < and > characters are XML tags. The information in our document (our data) is contained within the various tags that constitute the markup of the document. This makes it easy to distinguish the information in the document from the markup.

As you can see, the tags are paired together, so that any opening tag also has a closing tag. In XML parlance, these are called start-tags and end-tags. The end-tags are the same as the start-tags, except that they have a "/" right after the opening < character.

In this regard, XML tags work the same as start-tags and end-tags do in HTML. For example, you would create an HTML paragraph like this:

<P>This is a paragraph.</P>

As you can see, there is a <P> start-tag, and a </P> end-tag, just like we use for XML.

All of the information from the start of a start-tag to the end of an end-tag, and including everything in between, is called an element. So:

  • <first> is a start-tag
  • </first> is an end-tag
  • <first>John</first> is an element
The text between the start-tag and end-tag of an element is called the element content. The content between our tags will often just be data (as opposed to other elements). In this case, the element content is referred to as Parsed Character DATA, which is almost always referred to using its acronym, PCDATA.

Whenever you come across a strange-looking term like PCDATA, it's usually a good bet the term is inherited from SGML. Because XML is a subset of SGML, there are a lot of these inherited terms.

The whole document, starting at <name> and ending at </name>, is also an element, which happens to include other elements. (And, in this case, the element is called the root element, which we'll be talking about later.)

To put this new-found knowledge into action, let's create an example that contains more information than just a name.

Try It Out – Describing Weirdness

We're going to build an XML document to describe one of the greatest CDs ever produced, Dare to be Stupid, by Weird Al Yankovic. But before we break out Notepad and start typing, we need to know what information we're capturing.

In Chapter 1, we learned that XML is hierarchical in nature; information is structured like a tree, with parent/child relationships. This means that we'll have to arrange our CD information in a tree structure as well.

1. Since this is a CD, we'll need to capture information like the artist, title, and date released, as well as the genre of music. We'll also need information about each song on the CD, such as the title and length. And, since Weird Al is famous for his parodies, we'll include information about what song (if any) this one is a parody of.

Here's the hierarchy we'll be creating...

...Some of these elements, like <artist>, will appear only once; others, like <song>, will appear multiple times in the document. Also, some will have PCDATA only, while some will include their information as child elements instead. For example, the <artist> element will contain PCDATA for the title, whereas the <song> element won't contain any PCDATA of its own, but will contain child elements that further break down the information.

2. With this in mind, we're now ready to start entering XML. If you have Internet Explorer 5 installed on your machine, type the following into Notepad, and save it to your hard drive as cd.xml...

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Table of Contents


Introduction
Chapter 1: What is XML?
Chapter 2: Well-Formed XML
Chapter 3: XML in the Browser: Cascading Style Sheets
Chapter 4: XSLT and XPath
Chapter 5: XSLT - The Gory Details
Chapter 6: The Document Object Model (DOM)
Chapter 7: The Simple API for XML (SAX)
Chapter 8: Namespaces
Chapter 9: Basic Valid XML: DTDs
Chapter 10: Valid XML: Schemas
Chapter 11: Advanced Valid XML
Chapter 12: Linking XML
Chapter 13: XML and Databases
Chapter 14: Other Uses for XML
Case Study 1: Lydia's Lugnuts Web Store
Case Study 2: Discussion Group System
Case Study 3: XML for a Business-to-Business Application
Appendix A: The XML Document Object Model
Appendix B: SAX 1.0: The Simple API for XML
Appendix C: ASP Quick Start Tutorial
Appendix D: JavaScript Quick Start Tutorial
Appendix E: Support, Errata, and P2P.Wrox.Com
Appendix F: Useful Web Resources
Appendix G: XML Schema Datatypes
Index
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2001

    Good book but schema chaper is outdated

    I bought this book at local B&N bookstore. The authors need to update this book. Also, the authors spend a whole page to explain a thing that could be explained in one or two sentences. If they update and bring it up to the latest W3C recommentatins, it should be great.

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