XML Programming with VB and ASP

( 9 )


An introduction to XML for both beginner and intermediate VB and ASP developers featuring over 50 pages of example code and a best-practices approach to XML on the Web and in 3-tier development.

This book is an introduction to XML for both beginner and intermediate Visual Basic and Active Server Page developers with over 50 pages of example code. It provides a best-practices approach to VB development and explains 3-tier concepts and UML. Also discussed are ...

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An introduction to XML for both beginner and intermediate VB and ASP developers featuring over 50 pages of example code and a best-practices approach to XML on the Web and in 3-tier development.

This book is an introduction to XML for both beginner and intermediate Visual Basic and Active Server Page developers with over 50 pages of example code. It provides a best-practices approach to VB development and explains 3-tier concepts and UML. Also discussed are business-focused reasons for implementing XML within a company and on Web sites. 30 line drawings, 25 tables, and 15 screen shots included.

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Editorial Reviews

An introduction, from a programming and business perspective, to eXtensible Markup Language (XML), which the authors feel is as important to e-commerce and data exchange as HTML is to the World Wide Web. XML use in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5, Microsoft Visual Interdev, and Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 applications is the focus of the discussion. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781884777875
  • Publisher: Manning Publications Company
  • Publication date: 12/1/1999
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Wilson is a VB and SQL Server consultant specializing in 3-tier development architectures.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
About the Cover Illustration
Chapter 1: Why XML?
1.1 Overview
1.2 XML enables data sharing
Chapter 2: XML boot camp
2.1 Overview
2.2 XML and its derivatives is a huge topic
Chapter 3: Why would a business use XML?
3.1 Overview
3.2 The business problem
3.3 User scenarios
3.4 Solving the problem with XML and XSL
Chapter 4: Programming with XML
4.1 Overview
4.2 The W3C Document Object Model
4.3 Navigating the Microsoft XML DOM
4.4 Data Islands-getting started with XML
4.5 Getting the Microsoft XML objects onto your PC
4.6 Creating the objects
4.7 Loading a file synchronously
4.8 Loading a file asynchronously
4.9 A roundtrip on using the DOM object with a TreeView
4.10 Saving an XML document to a file in ASP
4.11 Handling errors and debugging
4.12 Accessing the XML with ASP
4.13 Sending data back to the user
4.14 Communicating with the server from VB using XMLHTTPRequest
Chapter 5: XSL-adding style to XML
5.1 Overview
5.2 What can XSL do?
5.3 Debugging your XML and XSL with IE5
5.4 Building the HTML output
5.5 Patterns
5.6 How to make a hyperlink
5.7 Summary
Chapter 6: Building XML solutions
6.1 Overview
6.2 What do we want to achieve in these examples?
6.3 A quick overview of the examples
6.4 Implements
6.5 Techniques for reusing business objects
6.6 Creating the projects
6.7 SimpleUI-just the basics
6.8 XMLDemo-a more complete example
6.9 Summary
Chapter7: The Microsoft DOM objects in detail
7.1 Overview
7.2 DOM objects
7.3 DOM object properties
7.4 DOM object methods
Chapter 8: Schemas, BizTalk, and eCommerce
8.1 An introduction to eCommerce
8.2 Why do our systems need a Schema?
8.3 Using the data types that are available
8.4 BizTalk, where it's all happening!
8.5 Summary
Chapter 9: Where to go from here
9.1 The End
9.2 Check out the online glossary
9.3 Investigate future technologies
9.4 Join the http://www.vbxml.com VB, ASP, and XML discussions
9.5 Author Online at http://www.manning.com
9.6 Newsgroups 281
9.7 W3C discussion groups
9.8 Links, links, and more links
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These are the major topics which you will become familiar with:


  • Chapter 1: Understanding and using XML files
  • Chapter 2: Understanding and using DTD files
  • Chapter 3: Understanding and using XSL files
  • Chapter 4: Understanding and using the DOMDocument
  • Chapter 5: Understanding CDATA, PCDATA, entities, elements, validation, parsing and many more XML topics
  • Chapter 6: Awareness of other interesting and important future technologies such as Namespaces, Schemas, XLink, XPointer and more


  • Chapter 1: Automating the IE5 web browser in your code
  • Chapter 2: Using the object model to expose properties and methods of the DHTML objects such as tables and DSO [Data Source Objects]
  • Chapter 3: The default XSL stylesheet
  • Chapter 4: Data Islands, how where, when and why


  • Chapter 1: DOM - using a DOMDocument
  • Chapter 2: Accessing webclasses, passing parameters and receiving the response
  • Chapter 3: Various VB code examples of manipulating an XML file, including selectNode, opening a "GET" connection to a webserver
  • Chapter 4: Building components (DLLs) as a business object in an XML solution


  • Chapter 1: Various ASP code examples of manipulating an XML file
  • Chapter 2: Using ASP pages as a central distribution point for your XML data
  • Chapter 3: Passing parameters to your ASP file and receiving the reply


  • Chapter 1: Opening a connection between your programs and a webserver using the XML HTTP Request object
  • Chapter 2: UML - Unified Modeling Language is explained and used in the examples


Imagine a world where computer programs can talk to each other and discover new sources of information, and use them almost immediately.

XML can usher in a world where developers living many years apart can build programs which can exchange data between themselves. In this world a user can ask a program for information from new sources which have become available, on the Internet for example.

There will be companies which are "data brokers" because all they do is provide repackaged data from websites and databases all over the world. Your programs will be able to understand, categorize and use that data correctly and quickly.

Does your company create programs which have many different data files? Do you have data storage files like Microsoft Word uses a .doc file and email systems use .pst files? If you are a part of a development team which defines these, listen up!

What if you defined all your data in XML and then used a formatting stylesheet (such as XSL) to display the same XML data file in different ways. Do you see the benefit? If you do it right, you could have one file showing up as a document in an editor, but also showing up as an email or even as a table in a database.

Currently we know of several companies who are designing what could be called an xGUI, or an eXtensible Graphical User Interface. This is where the boundaries of XML and applications will begin to blur and true document centricity will become the norm. Without ever leaving your current document, you can edit it in several different programs - because underneath it all is XML with different stylesheets being applied.

And this book can show you how to get started on building that future.

These are only some of the promises of XML [Extensible Markup Language]. As HTML [HyperText Markup Language] is a markup language which tells a web browser how to display your HTML web page, XML is a markup language which provides structure for your information.

XML can be considered a simplified dialect of SGML [Structured Generalized Markup Language].

For example let's say that you were looking for a list of all software developers who can program in Visual Basic. One of the options you have is to index all the relevant web pages on the Internet. But how do you tell if the page is listing Visual Basic programs, Visual Basic programmers, Visual Basic discussion groups or Visual Basic development companies? Sure, you could write an application which uses algorithms and dictionaries to try to work it out based on the context, but wouldn't it be easier if the website (or even an application!) had a way of explaining its content to your program?

Have you used a search engine and found exactly what you want the first time you asked? If you used a search engine to search for the resumes of all Visual Basic programmers, for example, you will get over 100,000 hits and only a few thousand would be appropriate. And of those few thousand hits, only a few would actually be resumes, the rest being a statement such as "email me for my resume".

We are sure search engine developers would like to see Web sites categorize themselves. If there was a way in which Web sites could list their content and context, your program would be massively simplified and search engines would become far more accurate.

In the broader XML scheme of things, this is the promise being made - that XML and its derivatives will be capable of describing Metadata (complex information and relationships) in a way which is consistent and machine readable.

It is being designed in a discussion between the major interested groups and individuals at the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium].

XML enables data sharing

Let's imagine we have a company "News R Us" which provides news information around the world. This company would most likely have hundreds of thousands of customers which consume a wide variety of outputs.

Most of these consumers of information would have different needs. They require the information in different formats, at different times. In fact let's add a mainframe application and UNIX programs to that mix as consumers of the news information feed.

We can also imagine News R Us providing the feed to their customers via a web page and also as a feed over the Internet from the business objects.

XML is an ideal data format for this type of complex situation. XML is not vendor-specific and doesn't require you to have a particular operating system or hardware. It is only a text file.

Each of the programs distributed across the world via the Internet would not usually be able to exchange data as there may be no consistent data exchange mechanism, but with web servers on each of these systems, data can be exchanged using the HTTP protocol. Later in this book, we will discover how to open connections between web servers and programs.

Let's progress our example a bit and assume that several news organizations exchange information and the consumers of the news feeds, once they have added information to it (or marked it up), send the "enriched" data around again.

So, imagine several different businesses communicating and exchanging data between their systems. The types of data could financial, data, price lists or anything!

But as in most systems, the trouble comes when the data file changes over time. As a developer you may be able to remember when your program crashed or displayed error messages. When you looked for the reason, you eventually found the text file your customer/colleague/etc... had given you had changed in a minute (or major!) way. A few spaces here, another column there or perhaps a whole new category of information.

With XML, that is not a problem.

Each of the participating systems can exchange news clippings or even billing information, provided they can understand the format of the XML document they are receiving. That way if the document grows, changes or evolves (as long as the format structure of the document is updated) you are safe.

So, XML has a document to do that as well! The computer programs which are exchanging data can each access the structure information. If the structure of the data and the structure listed in the document are both changed simultaneously, then no errors should occur (of course this depends on the developers having designed a flexible solution).

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2003

    One of our recomended books for SiteAdmin WDK developers

    Hello! This is one of our recomended books for SiteAdmin WDK developers. It's can be very useful for you if you dont have any idea what is XML is and how to use it with ASP. Can't say, that explaining you everything, but after reading this book, you can get really no bad base.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2001

    Waste of time

    This book does need proof reading. There were many errors and duplicate sentences consectutively. It is just a very difficult book to understand and was obviously quickly and poorly written. A technical book is already technical and difficult to understand, the author does not have to contribute to the confusion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2000

    A good introduction and helpful reference

    I found this book explained the concepts and practicalties of XML very clearly. It also established how XML fits in with my existing knowledge of VB & ASP. If you're looking for an easy path into using XML with VB & ASP then I'd thoroughly recommend this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2000

    The cornerstone of my company's future success..........outstanding

    Excellent layout, allows me to understand dtd's, xml, xsl as it applies to my visual basic program while allowing me to get caught up on the latest technologly. thanks............. p.s Tracey, Thank's for the info in the email it's not often you get a detailed email w/ example. We could have wrote a book on the subj alone , but now we have a road map to go by, thanks to you and your book!!!.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2000

    Finally... a readable programming guide

    I'd like to commend the authors of this book for penning one of the first programming manuals I've picked up that has kept my attention for more than a few chapters. The material is presented in much the same way one programmer might actually address another programmer... friendly, to the point, clear and helpful. The code samples in the book are well chosen and useful illustrations of how to apply the procedures being discussed to real world projects. I tire quickly of the lofty jargon-ridden tomes that some people seem impressed by...and in spite of some relatively minor proof-reading issues, this book is like a breath of fresh air in it's approach.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2000

    Disorganized and riddled with errors

    I have never returned a book because I was disappointed, until now. This book needs a better proofreading, I found 5 glaring errors in the first 15 pages, there were more but I stopped looking. Acronyms and technical items are used with no previous introductory remarks or definitions. The subject matter is splattered all over the map, there is very little cohesion in thoughts and concepts. When several possible solutions are presented, DTD vs. stylesheets vs XSL for example, not enough information is given to help the reader understand which solution is best for them. All in all a very disappointing purchase.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2000

    XML - Finally!

    Finally! - Someone has written an XML book that is simple enough for a budding XML developer to understand. The authors use excellent, easy to understand examples that really sparked my imagination into thinking about ways I can use XML in my own work to create really powerful applications and pages! The real beauty of this book is the longevity factor, though. As a reference resource it will stay on my shelf for a long time, not only as a source of specs but as a troubleshooting aid and idea farm. Excellent job, guys.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2000

    An XML book with great content and no 'filler'

    This book is definitely my favorite book on XML (I own enough XML books to open an XML Bookstore). The first thing that impresed me was that the book had great content, including code examples that are immediately applicable to real-world websites. The second, and most refreshing, aspect of this book is that it is not full of 'filler' like XML specifications and XML sytax definitions that you can find anywhere and just take up space in many books. Overall, it is just a book that reads very easily and contains content that you can learn and use immediately.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2000

    Development relief spells -- Mark and Trace's book!

    'XML Programming with VB and ASP' by Mark and Trace Wilson gets immediately to the cutting-edge-developer's need by providing examples and explanations in a very understandable format. This book finally brought the XML revolution into focus, and brought immediate closure to the cloud of details I've been trying to juggle from a dozen different 'Partial sources'.

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