XPath and XPointer
Locating Content in XML Documents
By John Simpson
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Released: July 2002
Pages: 210

Referring to specific information inside an XML document is a little like finding a needle in a haystack: how do you differentiate the information you need from everything else? XPath and XPointer are two closely related languages that play a key role in XML processing by allowing developers to find these needles and manipulate embedded information. XPath describes a route for finding specific items by defining a path through the hierarchy of an XML document, abstracting only the information that's relevant for identifying the data. XPointer extends XPath to identify more complex parts of documents. The two technologies are critical for developers seeking needles in haystacks in various types of processing.

XPath and XPointer fills an essential need for XML developers by focusing directly on a critical topic that has been covered only briefly. Written by John Simpson, an author with considerable XML experience, the book offers practical knowledge of the two languages that underpin XML, XSLT and XLink. XPath and XPointer cuts through basic theory and provides real-world examples that you can use right away.

Written for XML and XSLT developers and anyone else who needs to address information in XML documents, the book assumes a working knowledge of XML and XSLT. It begins with an introduction to XPath basics. You'll learn about location steps and paths, XPath functions and numeric operators. Once you've covered XPath in depth, you'll move on to XPointer--its background, syntax, and forms of addressing. By the time you've finished the book, you'll know how to construct a full XPointer (one that uses an XPath location path to address document content) and completely understand both the XPath and XPointer features it uses.

XPath and XPointer contains material on the forthcoming XPath 2.0 spec and EXSLT extensions, as well as versions 1.0 of both XPath and XPointer. A succinct but thorough hands-on guide, no other book on the market provides comprehensive information on these two key XML technologies in one place.

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4.0

XPath and XPointer Review

By jonnie savell

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media XPath and XPointer:

I believe the book is quite good.

I believe that the context node should have been better defined.

I believe that chapter 3 should have had more examples.

Nonetheless, I have been very happy with this book. When I had a technical

question about the content, I wrote to O'Reilly and they had the author send me an answer and a satisfactory explanation. I am happy.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
2.0

XPath and XPointer Review

By Bud Gibson

from Undisclosed

Comments about O'Reilly Media XPath and XPointer:

This book is mixed. I bought it really for an independent, more in-depth treatment of XPath. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 are really good in that regard.

However, there are two BIG negatives to the book. First, THE EXAMPLES ARE NOT ON-LINE EVEN THOUGH THE PREFACE SUGGESTS THEY ARE. This is RIDICULOUS since particularly Chapter 5 is written as though you were interactively working the example. Chapters 3 and 4 are also best read interactively like this.

Second, the purpose of some of the other chapters is unclear or they could be better redacted with the reader who is not part of the small XPath cognoscenti in mind. Chapter one's treatment of the historical components of XPath seems a little like ancient history to me, and I am not sure what it adds.

Chapter two is a little disjoint. The style is deductive. For instance, the reader is told several papges in that he or she might have deduced that XPath supports 4 types. Well, why not just say that up front. It was also unclear why anyone would want to use a string in XPath the way it was explained here. Of course, you want to use strings in comparison operators all the time.

XLink and XPointer are still relatively immature. I might have suggested de-emphasizing them. Focusing chapters on non-XSLT applications that use XPATH might have been better. O'Reilly has really missed the boat in this regard. A lot of new interfaces are being built that allow XPath access to document trees. One of the most interesting of these is the Java Standard Tag Library. However, Bergsten's JavaServer Pages 2nd Edition barely touches the topic, perhaps because XPath belongs elsewhere. However, it is also not in the XPath book.

Wake-up! Expand the parts of this book that are good, and put examples on-line. Make it a book that hands-on people can really use.

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