Professional XML Applications

Professional XML Applications

by Trevor Jenkins
     
 

What is the Subject Area?

XML, otherwise known as eXtensible Mark Up language is the latest buzz word on the internet.
  • Why is this? XML is a meta language, meaning a language which describes data. Like HTML, it is a sub set of SGML (Standardized General Mark Up Language) but unlike HTML it is infinitely extensible.
  • What do we mean by this?
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Overview

What is the Subject Area?

XML, otherwise known as eXtensible Mark Up language is the latest buzz word on the internet.
  • Why is this? XML is a meta language, meaning a language which describes data. Like HTML, it is a sub set of SGML (Standardized General Mark Up Language) but unlike HTML it is infinitely extensible.
  • What do we mean by this? Well, HTML has a fixed number of tags and for the most part, these tags define what a page of text will look like in your browser will it be bold, italic, a paragraph, a heading etc. This tells you nothing about the data the page contains. In XML, there is no limit to the number of tags and each tag describes the data it contains. So, if I was summarizing these book details in XML, I would have an pair of tags which would contain the ISBN number of the book, a pair of tags, an pair of tags and so on.
  • So what you may ask? So the possibilities this opens up for identifying and sorting data are huge. If I had a whole pile of individual title information sheets, and I wanted to produce a single document which listed all the ISBNS, all the prices etc, I would just sort on the specific XML tags. If I turned a book into XML , the Bible, the Koran and the works of Shakespeare have already been done, and then wanted details of a specific subject I would search for the XML tagged data.
XML is a user friendly version of SGML which will make the management of huge sets of on-line documentation much easier. It's a language which describes data, making it much easier to find and sort by the data type you require. It opens up the opportunity for industry groups, like the health care and automotive industries to create their own specific languages for the interchange of data. It speeds up the transfer of data from a database on the server to an application on the client - check out the Microsoft auction demo on the MS XML page. It has immense potential, and, crucially the support of both the major browser companies.

What's Great About this Book?

  • The case studies make this book unique; most books in this subject area give full coverage of the theory of XML and leave the reader asking - yes, but what can I actually use it for. This book plugs that gap.
  • Provides a comprehensive introduction to XML, the language
  • Covers XML, DTDs (Document Type Definitions) and XML parsers
  • Follows this up with a series of case studies demonstrating XML in action

Who is this Book for?

This book is for anyone who wants to know more about the theory and practical application of XML. Anyone who will be developing an application or even a web page, should be aware of how XML can help them.

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Editorial Reviews

Dino Esposito

There's little doubt that XML (Extensible Markup Language) is among the emerging technologies that will gain a wide and significant acceptance. In particular, this means that companies will be writing real-world applications and services based on it. Why? Because XML is a powerful tool when designing Web applications and a universal data format to marshal information across the various tiers of the system. XML describes data, no matter the language, platform, or format. This principle emerges clearly from XML Applications, by Frank Boumphrey et al. This is the first book that tries to bring XML to a wide audience by explaining how to take advantage of it in your own projects.

There's good and bad with the book. The good point is that the book works well as an overall reference to XML. It covers in detail the language, metadata, structure, stylesheets, current standards, and important in-progress proposals (such as XLinks and XPointers). It also provides useful links to web sites.

On the other hand, XML Applications does not make clear why and when you should resort to XML. Because it's cool and exciting? Perhaps. Do you have to turn your system inside out in the name of XML? Do you have to write your XML-enabled browser or plug-in? Do you have to forget about HTML? Answers to these and other questions are scattered throughout the book, but aren't specifically spelled out anywhere. In other words, the book is somewhat poorly organized and doesn't live up to the claim in the introduction that "no experience of XML is assumed."

The first three chapters cover the basic knowledge of XML: well-formed documents, document type definitions, and schemas. Next, you are introduced to namespaces and concepts such as links and pointers. The W3C XML document object model is discussed in Chapter 6, followed by the XML Style Sheet that demonstrates at last how the separation between data and presentation occurs. The final chapter presents examples of using XML on the server-side as the mainstream of data managed by some ASP pages.

XML Applications presents itself as a review of the applications you could create with XML, but isn't convincing enough as for when and why you might need to do so. That doesn't mean, though, that the authors aren't right! In the authors' defense, I'd guess that the book suffered from the lack of released browsers or fully XML-enabled tools. With the availability of Internet Explorer 5.0, for instance, the book might have been organized differently.

In summary, XML Applications is a useful language reference. However, it is far less helpful as a guide to create real-world applications.
Electronic Review of Books

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781861001528
Publisher:
Wrox Press, Inc.
Publication date:
11/20/1998
Pages:
600
Product dimensions:
7.26(w) x 9.14(h) x 1.51(d)

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