HTML has enjoyed its five years and fifteen megabytes of fame, and these days the all the savvy computer bees are buzzing about the new language poised to rule the hive: XML. XML is as different from HTML as chess is from tick-tack-toe. Unlike HTML, XML for people without programming experience is a markup language that is flexible, unforgiving, and complex. It's easy to find articles and books about XML that leave you stranded in the 51st State Confusion almost immediately after they begin to ramble about schemas, namespaces, parsers, and DTDs.
In XML For The World Wide Web, Elizabeth Castro has solved the problem of how to teach a very difficult subject to a very boggleable beginner. How has she managed this? ... From her previous bestselling books, we already know that Castro is a clear and engaging writer. In this book, she succeeds for yet another reason: she has designed this book with the beginning student in mind. Castro writes: "You should know that this book is notnor does it try to bean exhaustive guide to XML. Instead, it is a beginner's guide to using XML for creating Web pages."
To work effectively with this book, all you'll need is a basic knowledge about HTML and a conscious brain. Castro calls her book a beginner's guide, but if you follow her lead to the last page, you'll be much more than a beginner in the kingdom of XML.
What will you know how to do when you've finished studying this book? You will be able to make XML-based Web pages. Your XML tags will have separated the structure from the style. And thanks to XML and your newly-won knowledge, the labeled information that you place into these Web pages will re-usable in many different contexts and on numerous hardware devices. Castro's book is divided into 6 parts: Writing XML; DTDs; XML Schema and Namespaces; XSLT and Xpath; Cascading Style Sheets; and Xlink and Xpointer. Each chapter is subdivided into miniature lessons, and in this way the complex material is made simpler and easier to understand. Every page of the book shows the code that you'll be making, so that you can see precisely how things get done in XML. Four helpful appendixes round out the book: about XHTML, XML Tools, Special Symbols, and Colors in Hex.
When you've finished reading the book you can do with it what you're probably doing with Castro's superb book about HTML: dip into it and use it as a handy reference. If you have questions that the book doesn't answer, and you need even more information, Castro still won't let you down. She has set up a Web site with these features: a FAQ, all the book's sample files, updates, and a question-and-answer board. I have used Castro's HTML board twice, and both times the answers to my questions arrived quickly and solved my coding problems straightaway.
There's one final touch which will be appreciated by everyone who cares about the environment. Every example in the book, text and pictures, focuses on some aspect of one of our world's most interesting endangered animals: the tiger. For years I have been writing that those of us involved in technology must remember first and foremost that Mother Earth sustains us all. Garbage in, the human species out. In XML For The World Wide Web, Elizabeth Castro has written a most outstanding introduction to XML. We should hope that this book along with the world's precious tigers will remain with us for a long time.