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Jack J. Woehr
XML Bible, by Elliotte Rusty Harold, is a readable and meaty introduction to practical XML. Harold states his case succinctly:
This books has one primary goal: to teach you to write XML for the Web. Fortunately, XML has a decidedly flat learning curve...As you learn a little, you can do a little.
XML Bible is, in form, at least, one of those rush-to-print wonders documenting standards that aren't yet adopted for languages that aren't yet finished so that the reader can use tools that aren't written to produce documents for browsers that aren't commonly available. Harold writes:
I've outlined a lot of exciting stuff in this chapter. However honesty compels me to tell you that...much of what I've described is the promise of XML rather than the current reality.
Yet it's a surprisingly well-assembled volume, nicely integrated with its CD-ROM and authored and edited by individuals who had some inkling of the difficulties the reader would encounter exercising the content. The author states:
In this book, I mostly assume you're using Windows 95 or NT 4.0 or later. As a longtime Mac and UNIX user, I somewhat regret this. Like Java, XML is supposed to be platform independent. Also, like Java, the reality is somewhat short of the hype.
Harold visits quite a range of specialty markups, each effectively at this time in XML history more-or-less requiring a different browser to appreciate. W3C's Amaya for several platforms comes on the CD-ROM, as do Netscape 4.0.4 and IE5, both for Wintel. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that IE5, as of the cut, had an edge on generalized XML browsing. However, only Amaya knew how to render MathML. On Linux, I did best with a stable release of Mozilla, after upgrading one of my Linux 5.2 machines to Linux 6.x so it would run the latest. However, Mozilla stumbled on XSL formatting. And no browser freely available for any of the book's supported platforms handles exotica like VoxML (used for telephony).
Laying aside for now the absorbing minutiae of bleeding-edge geek tool frenzy that afforded us many hours of entertainment in the course of preparing this review, we should note that the bulk of the book focuses not on exotica, but on the nitty-gritty basics of XML and style markup. Document type definitions, cascading style sheets, XSL formatting, and VML are among the topics given extensive coverage.
To a certain extent, you can anticipate such flaws as this book possesses. Any computer book named "The [subject] Bible" is probably going to merit the subtitle "A little too much about [subject]," and this toe-breaker is no exception. The day is coming when computer book publishers are going to stop trying to snow readers with avoirdupois weight and abandon printing the long code listings in favor of pointing the reader to the CD-ROM content (all sample code is indeed included on XML Bible's disk).
The CD-ROM contains, in addition to browsers and source from the book, an XML parser written in Java, various utilities, and some standard and specification documents.
Harold is a talented technical writer with a lively style well suited to his audience. The book is reasonably well edited and the production values are high. While (despite cover blurbs) neither comprehensive nor authoritative, it is broad, energetic, helpful, and alert. For the working web author needing a boosterized ramp-up to productivity in XML, XML Bible is more than adequate, it's also quite useful and entertaining.
— Electronic Review of Computer Books