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XML by Example

Overview

XML by Example, 2nd edition has been revised and updated to include the newest standards, more robust examples, and better tools for developers to make the most of XML as they learn it. Building off readers¿ knowledge of HTML, JavaScript and web development, this book teaches XML using practical, real-world examples every step of the way. The book starts with a broad overview of the technologies and standards that make up XML. Following chapters teach each of these topics in depth, including new coverage of: more...

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Overview

XML by Example, 2nd edition has been revised and updated to include the newest standards, more robust examples, and better tools for developers to make the most of XML as they learn it. Building off readers¿ knowledge of HTML, JavaScript and web development, this book teaches XML using practical, real-world examples every step of the way. The book starts with a broad overview of the technologies and standards that make up XML. Following chapters teach each of these topics in depth, including new coverage of: more robust tools for parsing and manipulating XML, modeling with XML Schemas, managing extensibility with Namespaces, the latest version of XSL transformations (XSLT), applying style with XSL Formatting Objects and Cascading Style Sheets, object models including SAX 2 and DOM 2, and working with existing XML models: XHTML, WML and RSS. The final chapters design and build an XML-enabled e-Commerce application, putting together the concepts mastered earlier in the book.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789725042
  • Publisher: Que
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Series: By Example Series
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 495
  • Product dimensions: 7.32 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Benoît Marchal is a writer and consultant based in Namur, Belgium. His company, Pineapplesoft, specializes in e-commerce with XML and Java. In 1997, he co-founded the XML/EDI Group, a think tank that promotes the use of XML in e-commerce applications.

He is the author of Applied XML Solutions (Sams), and a columnist for Gamelan and IBM developerWorks. You can reach him through his Web site at http://www.marchal.com or via e-mail at bmarchal@Pineapplesoft.com.

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1: The XML Galaxy

XML stands for the eXtensible Markup Language. It is a new markup language, developed by the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), mainly to overcome limitations in HTML. The W3C is the organization in charge of the development and maintenance of most Web standards, most notably HTML. For more information on the W3C, visit its Web site at www. w3. o rg.

HTML is an immensely popular markup language. According to some studies there are 800 million Web pages, all based on HTML. HTML is supported by thousands of applications including browsers, editors, email software, databases, contact managers, and more.

Originally, the Web was a solution to publish scientific documents. Today it has grown into a full-fledged medium, equal to print and TV. More importantly, the Web is an interactive medium because it supports applications such as online shops, electronic banking, and trading and forums.

To accommodate this phenomenal popularity, HTML has been extended over the years. Many new tags have been introduced. The first version of HTML had a dozen tags; the latest version (HTML 4.0) is close to 100 tags (not counting browser-specific tags).

Furthermore, a large set of supporting technologies also has been introduced: JavaScript, Java, Flash, CGI, ASP, streaming media, MP3, and more. Some of these technologies were developed by the W3C whereas others were introduced by vendors.

However, everything is not rosy with HTML. It has grown into a complex language. At almost 100 tags, it is definitively not a small language. The combinations of tags are almost endless and the result of a particular combination of tags might be different from one browser to another.

Finally, despite all these tags already included in HTML, more are needed. Electronic commerce applications need tags for product references, prices, name, addresses, and more. Streaming needs tags to control the flow of images and sound. Search engines need more precise tags for keywords and description. Security needs tags for signing. The list of applications that need new HTML tags is almost endless.

However, adding even more tags to an overblown language is hardly a satisfactory solution. It appears that HTML is already on the verge of collapsing under its own weight, so why continue adding tags?

Worse, although many applications need more tags, some applications would greatly benefit if there were less, not more, tags in HTML. The W3C expects that by the year 2002, 75% of surfers won't be using a PC. Rather, they will access the Web from a personal digital assistant, such as the popular PalmPilot, or from so-called smart phones.

These machines are not as powerful as PCs. They cannot process a complex language like HTML, much less a version of HTML that would include more tags.

Another, but related, problem is that it takes many tags to format a page. It is not uncommon to see pages that have more markup than content! These pages are slow to download and to display.

In conclusion, even though HTML is a popular and successful markup language, it has some major shortcomings. XML was developed to address these shortcomings. It was not introduced for the sake of novelty.

XML exists because HTML was successful. Therefore, XML incorporates many successful features of HTML. XML also exists because HTML could not live up to new demands. Therefore, XML breaks new ground where it is appropriat.

It is difficult to change a successful technology like HTML so, notsurprisingly, XML has raised some level of controversy.

Let's make it clear: XML is unlikely to replace HTML in the near or medium-term. XML does not threaten the Web but introduces new possibilities. Work is already under way to combine XML and HTML in XHTML, an XML version of HTML. At the time of this writing, XHTML version 1.0 is not finalized yet. However, it is expected that XHTML will soon be adopted by the W3C.

Some of the areas where XML will be useful in the near-term include:

  • large Web site maintenance. XML would work behind the scene to simplify the creation of HTML documents
  • exchange of information between organizations
  • offloading and reloading of databases
  • syndicated content, where content is being made available to different Web sites
  • electronic commerce applications where different organizations collaborate to serve a customer
  • scientific applications with new markup languages for mathematical and chemical formulas
  • electronic books with new markup languages to express rights and ownership
  • handheld devices and smart phones with new markup languages optimized for these "alternative" devices
This book takes a "hands-on" approach to XML. It will teach you how to deploy XML in your environment: how to decide where XML fits and how to best implement it. It is illustrated with many real-world examples. As you will see, there are two classes of applications for XML: publishing and data exchange. This book draws most of its examples from data exchange applications because they are currently the most popular. However, it also includes a very comprehensive example of Web site publishing.

I make some assumptions about you. I assume you are familiar with the Web, insofar that you can read, understand, and write basic HMTL pages as well as read and understand a simple JavaScript application. You don't have to be a master at HTML to learn XML; nor do you need to be a guru of JavaScript.

Most of the code in this book is based on XML and its companion standards. When programming was required, I used JavaScript as often as possible. JavaScript, however, was not appropriate for the final example so I turned to Java.

You don't need to know Java to read this book. There is very little Java involved (again, most of the code in the final example is based on techniques that you will learn in this book) and Appendix A, "Crash Course on Java," will teach you just enough Java to understand the examples.

A First Look at XML

The idea behind XML is deceptively simple. It aims at answering the conflicting demands that arrive at the W3C for the future of HTML.

On one hand, people need more tags. And these new tags are increasingly specialized. For example, mathematicians want tags for formulas. Chemists also want tags for formulas but they are not the same.

On the other hand, authors and developers want fewer tags. HTML is already so complex! As handheld devices gain in popularity, the need for a simpler markup language also is apparent because small devices, like the PaImPilot, are not powerful enough to process HMTL pages...

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Table of Contents

Introduction.

The by Example Series. Who Should Use This Book. This Book's Organization. Conventions Used in This Book.

1. The XML Galaxy.

Introduction. Where This Book Fits. A First Look at XML. A First Look on Document Structure. Markup Language History. Application of XML. Companion Standards. XML Software.

2. XML Syntax.

A First Look at the XML Syntax. Advanced Topics. Frequently Asked Questions About XML. Four Common Errors. Two Applications of XML. XML Editors.

3. XML Namespaces.

The Problem Namespaces Solves. Namespaces. URIs. Scoping. Digital Signature: An Example of Namespaces.

4. XML Models.

DTDs and XML Schemas. The DTD Syntax. Relationship Between the DTD and the Document. Advanced DTD Concepts. The Schema Syntax. Namespaces and Other Advanced Schema Concepts. Modeling XML Documents. Modeling Documents from an Object Model. Modeling from Scratch. A Tool to Help.

5. XSL Transformations.

Why Styling? XSL. Basic XSLT. Supporting Different Markup Languages. When and Where to Use Style Sheets. Advanced XSLT.

6. XSL Formatting Objects and Cascading Style Sheets.

Rendering XML Without HTML. The Basics of CSS and FO. Simple CSS. Simple FO. Flow Objects and Areas. Property Values. Box Properties. Text and Font Properties. Some Advanced Features. When Should You Use Which.

7. The Parser and DOM.

What Is a Parser? The Parser and the Application. Document Object Model. Getting Started with DOM. Managing the State. Common Errors and How to Solve Them. DOM and Java. DOM in Applications.

8. Alternative API: SAX.

Why Another API? SAX: The Power API. Commonly Used SAX Interfaces and Classes. Maintaining the State. Flexibility.

9. Writing XML.

The Parser Mirror. Modifying a Document with DOM. Exploring Netscape Support for DOM. DOM Methods to Create and Modify Documents. Creating a New Document with DOM. Using DOM to Create Documents. Creating Documents Without DOM. Doing Something with the XML Documents. Writing with Flexibility in Mind.

10. Important XML Models.

Structured and Extensible. XLink. XHTML. e-Commerce, XML/EDI, and ebXML. The Right Level of Abstraction. Attributes Versus Elements.

11. N-Tiered Architecture and XML.

What Is an N-Tiered Application? The XCommerce Application. How XML Helps. Programming SOAP. XCommerce Architecture. Server-Side Programming Language.

12. Putting It All Together: An e-Commerce Example.

Building XCommerce. First Tier: The Database. Second Tier: The SOAP Service. Third Tier: The Presentation Servlet. Utility Class: Comparing Strings.

Appendix A. Crash Course on Java.

Java in Perspective. Downloading Java Tools. Your First Java Application. Servlets. Your First Servlet. More Java Language Concepts.

Appendix B. DTD and XML Schema Simple Types.

Simple Types Supported by DTD. Simple Types Supported by XML Schema.

Index.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2001

    Excellent book, a must-have

    This book is a great learning tool, especially for programmers just getting started with XML. It is extremely well-written and the examples are thought out very well. The author does a great job of breaking down complex problems and providing a solution, as well as showing the reader what makes XML so powerful. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about XML.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2001

    Not good enough

    I bought this book thinking that it would give an ellaborate illustration on how to work XML and XSL. It gave little insight to both; plus no syntax or good examples to work with. I couldn't even find CDATA in the index...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2000

    Glad I bought this book

    I had browsed through many books on XML in the market. This one is a easy to read book with lots of examples(which works)! This book is excellent as it covers from the basics of XML to serious application examples. I really liked the DOM and SAX examples and I could devlop my own examples based on these examples. I would highly recommend this book for casual and also serious XML professionals

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2000

    GREAT Book !

    Enjoyable and easily readable book ! I hadn't much heard about XML before, but this book explained all I had to know... It's totally understandable for novices, but also very complete. The examples are well choosen (simple enough but interesting and usable). I recommend it strongly !

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2000

    Well worth the money

    Ben has a great example that goes from a client browser to a server with a database. The example works, it uses Java servlets with an ODBC database. I am glad I have this book. kc

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