XML For Dummies

Overview

Data exchange. Database connectivity. Complex document creation. With XML, you can create common formats for sharing information -- once you get the hang of all those rules. That's where this book comes in. Now updated to cover the latest XML developments, this friendly reference helps you get the hang of DTDs, XML Schema, XPath, and other applications -- and start putting XML to work.

"...shows how to use XML to improve the interactivity of your Web site, accommodate special or complex data, and take...

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Overview

Data exchange. Database connectivity. Complex document creation. With XML, you can create common formats for sharing information -- once you get the hang of all those rules. That's where this book comes in. Now updated to cover the latest XML developments, this friendly reference helps you get the hang of DTDs, XML Schema, XPath, and other applications -- and start putting XML to work.

"...shows how to use XML to improve the interactivity of your Web site, accommodate special or complex data, and take more control over document structure and layout."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764506925
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/5/2000
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 378
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Ed Tittel is a grizzled veteran of the publishing game, with several hundred magazine articles and over 85 books to his credit. Ed has worked on five other ...For Dummies books that vary from HTML 4 For Dummies (the fourth iteration on this subject, with Stephen N. James as his coauthor) to Networking with NetWare For Dummies, 4th edition (with James Gaskin and David Johnson), and other topics. Ed also presides over a small Austin, Texas-based consulting company, LANWrights, Inc., that specializes in network-oriented training, writing, and consulting. In his spare time, Ed likes to shoot pool, cook chicken stock, and harass his growing young Labrador pup, Blackie (or is it the other way 'round?). You can reach Ed via e-mail at etittel@lanw.com or on his Web page at www.lanw.com/etbio.htm.
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Read an Excerpt


Chapter 4: Understanding XML Document Structure

In This Chapter
  • Mastering the basics of creating an XML document
  • Exploring techniques for good XML coding
  • Understanding the virtues of completeness
  • Realizing that well-formedness implies more than it says
  • Figuring out when you've got it right

In this chapter, we explore the meaning of the terms valid and well formed in relation to XML documents. Then we demonstrate good XML coding techniques. After you master the concept of good coding, you find out how complete XML delivers good structure overall. This leads to a discussion of what well formed really means in an XML document. After you get all that under your hat, you find out how to tell whether you've coded your XML correctly.

Mastering the Basics: Pieces and Parts

Writing XML code is easy. All you need is a text editor -- you can even make up your own tag names! Before you begin creating XML documents, however, we need to talk about a few things.

You must understand a couple of buzzwords in order to create correctly formatted XML documents: valid and well formed. These two terms are often bantered about whenever techie types discuss XML. In this section, you uncover what these two terms mean -- without the usual jargon.

A well-formed road is a good road

All XML documents must be well formed -- end of story! A well-formed XML document follows a few specific rules to make the document easy for a computer program to read. See the section entitled "Making XML Well-Formed" later in this chapter for the complete scoop on creating well-formed XML.

Seeking validation

Although all XML documents must be well formed -- or else they aren't XML -- not all XML documents have to be valid. This doesn't mean you don't want valid XML documents. Validity just adds another layer of structure that can be helpful when you want to use or reuse a document. After all, a structured document is better than one that can contain any old set of tags in any old order.

A valid XML document adheres to a Document Type Definition (DTD). To answer the next inevitable question, a DTD defines a set of rules that specify which tags can legally appear in your document. A DTD also spells out how those tags can appear: It indicates their order and which tags can appear within other tags. Simply put, a DTD tells you what your tags can and cannot do; therefore, a DTD defines the rules that XML markup in a document must follow.

DTDs are not necessary, or required, for every instance of XML. However, they do give your XML documents an extra layer of organizational structure that can make your life easier. DTDs also help developers share expectations about document structures. If you're interested in reading more about DTDs, please see Chapter 5.

Now that you know what to look out for, open your text editor so we can get started.

Preambles and Definitions Start the Game

A well-formed XML document always begins with a declaration that announces that the document is written using XML 1.0, so speak up and declare yourself!

Declare yourself!

A declaration for an XML document is simple. It occurs in the first line of your XML document. Currently, a declaration must point to XML version 1.0 -- after all, it's the only version out there. An XML declaration looks like this:

[image missing]

Tip:
To be honest, you don't have to include an XML declaration in every XML document. If you don't point to a particular version, XML 1.0 is the default. However, we suggest that you get in the declaration habit for all XML documents because when version 2.0 comes out, XML declarations might be required.

You can write fancier declarations for XML documents if you want. For more XML declaration details, see Chapter 2.

Document it

If you decide to use a DTD to add organization and structure to an XML document, you must declare that DTD. (Remember that a DTD defines the rules of the game for your XML document. To find out more about creating and using DTDs, consult Chapter 5.) To declare a DTD in an XML document, you need just one simple line:

Document-Name SYSTEM "Document-Name.dtd">

There you have it -- one line of code that says it all for the related DTD!

Good Bodies Make for Good Reading

Have you ever picked up an instruction manual and wished you hadn't? You know the ones we mean -- chock full of grammatical errors, poor syntax, and just plain lousy sentence structure. After hours of struggling to finish assembling a do-it-yourself bookcase, you wonder why the author took the time to write a manual at all. You might be tempted -- and rightfully so -- to make the same value judgment about XML code. If the code lacks structure from a human-readable standpoint, perhaps the document containing that code is of poor quality.

This section explains how to write good -- that is, well-formed -- XML code to keep others from saying bad things about your work later!

The root of the matter

In HTML, you begin every HTML document with . The . . . tag pair is the root element for an HTML document. With XML, you create elements just like you use predefined HTML tags. The only difference with XML is that you get to choose the name for your root element. For example...

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I Why XML Is "eXtreMely cool" 11
Ch. 1 Understanding What XML Is - and Why You Should Care 13
Ch. 2 Comparing and Combining HTML and XML 25
Ch. 3 Getting XML Basics Down Pat 41
Pt. II XML Basics 53
Ch. 4 Planning an XML Document That Does Something Great 55
Ch. 5 Defining XML Documents 71
Ch. 6 Understanding and Using DTDs 77
Ch. 7 Creating Custom DTDs 95
Ch. 8 Understanding and Using XML Schema 109
Ch. 9 Building Custom XML Schemas 125
Pt. III Putting XML to Work 139
Ch. 10 DTDs at Work 141
Ch. 11 XML Schema at Work 161
Ch. 12 Adding Character to XML 179
Pt. IV Using and Delivering XML Content 189
Ch. 13 Inside an XML Solution 191
Ch. 14 Using XSL with XML 201
Ch. 15 Processing XML 221
Ch. 16 Viewing XML on the Web 233
Pt. V XML's Lovely Linking Languages 245
Ch. 17 The XML Linking Language 247
Ch. 18 The XML Path Language 265
Ch. 19 The XML Pointer Language 281
Pt. VI XML in the Real World 291
Ch. 20 Cool XML Tools and Technologies 293
Ch. 21 XML and Web Services 305
Ch. 22 XML on the Spot! 317
Pt. VII The Part of Tens 327
Ch. 23 Ten Top XML Applications 329
Ch. 24 Ten Ultimate XML Resources 337
App. A: About the CD 345
App. B: Glossary 353
Index 367
Hungry Minds End-User License Agreement 387
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2001

    Re: may I suggest 'Spelling For Dummies'?

    You sure may, provided you read 'Good manners for Dummies' : )

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2000

    Re: Vaauuuge

    Regarding 'Vaauuuge' above, may I suggest 'Spelling For Dummies'?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2000

    A plus for EDI folks preparing to enter the XML world.

    Even though the book assumes that you have at least a moderate understanding of HTML (I don't), I found the book very valuable from the aspect of explaining what XML is all about and it's practical uses. It gives the basics presented in a manner that can be understood by most EDI people. You will be able to participate in an XML discussion and have at least a basic understanding of what all the niose is about.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2000

    Vaauuuge..

    So far I have gotten about half way through this book and it seems to be a bit vauge. Though it does give a good foundation on the concepts of XML, it seems to lack exercises. Like I said, I'm only half way through the book so maybe it will get better. I suppose it would be a good book for the person who has no idea what XML is about. But before you even think of picking up this book you need to have a strong foundation in HTML.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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