XML, the Extensible Markup Language, is the next-generation markup language for the Web. It provides a more structured (and therefore more powerful) medium than HTML, allowing us to define new document types and stylesheets as needed. Although the generic tags of HTML are sufficient for everyday text, XML gives us a way to add rich, well-defined markup to electronic documents.
The XML Pocket Reference is both a handy introduction to XML terminology and syntax, and a quick reference to XML instructions, attributes, entities, and datatypes. It also covers XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language), necessary to ensure that your XML documents have a consistent look and feel across platforms.
Although XML itself is complex, its basic concepts are simple. This small book acts both as a perfect tutorial for learning the basics of XML, and as a reference to the XML and XSL specifications.
Book reviews: http://sd.znet.com/~dwlarson/bookReviews.html
XML is becoming in lingua franca for exchanging information between computer systems. Many Java technologies implement XML as a way to establish properties. XML is a way to disseminate records from databases to XML-aware applications at-large. I found the book to be most helpful and sits beside me as I work on my computer.
The book provides practical examples and then fully explains using those example's line-by-line in most cases. Overviews provide well-rounded understanding as the reader proceeds. The book's index is extensive and most helpful.
Topics include the complete description of DTD's, elements, entities, and attributes. It cleared up some confusion I had about default namespaces and should make it clear to anyone else too. It covers XML Stylesheets and the various XSL stylesheet elements that trigger actions as a XML document is translated. It covers Xlink and XPointer topics, although the author points out these are changing rapidly and may be out-of-date even at the time of printing. The book serves as a handy encyclopedia of terms and definitions concerning XML.
If you are learning about other technologies that incorporate XML, I strongly recommend this book as a companion during your reading, learning, and understanding its uses.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
This rating is my own personal value system and as such is very subjective. I think a rating of 5 means I would read finish reading a book. A rating of 10 would indicate I had trouble putting a book down and have no complaints at all about it.
Just bought this one. A first comment... Thank you, O'Reilly, for putting an index in a Pocket Ref book! Without the index, a Pocket Ref book is sorta like a French-English (say) pocket dictionary, where words are sorted by reverse soundex(MD5(word_string)).
ORAs Pocket References are surprisingly useful due to their convenient format. It has all the right stuff.
Unfortuantely, partially due to the nature of XML as a developing standard, This presents the material more as a pocket tutorial than a pocket reference. Witness the fact that there is no "namespace" reference index in the page and the section headings are buried in the bindings. Here you have a hierarchical structured language but a book who's structure does not reflect it!
Still, it provides a convenient tag reference, once you can find it. Again, the descriptions seem overly didatic. But I guess this can prove an immense help to those new to XML as well as due to the lack of a "definitive guide" or "complete reference" for XML.
A minor note is that it would have been nice if he prefaced the namespaces with the latest namespaces, as well as stated in which specification a tag may have appeared. I ran into trouble with the xsl:invoke / xsl:macro /xsl:content which I was unable to find in the most recent XSLT specification at W3 .
Also, it could do with a chapter devoted to the DOM for people who will be accessing XML programmatically--MSDN maanged to cram it into an unreadable page, XML:Pocket Reference should devote at least five readable pages.
Part of me wonders why O'Reilly didn't put a big red BETA EDITION across the cover. I could use a discount on the next edition when the working drafts get finalized.
Now having been overly harsh on Mr. Eckstein's work, I have to turn around and recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone trying to pick up XML. Like all of the Pocket Reference series, this one is a winner. The only disappointment they will find is that ORA stopped including the lay-flat binding so they're liable to break the binding of even this tiny book before they've figured out XML and even then, still be referencing it a lot.
I'd been reading bits on XML here and there, but it wasn't until I picked up this book that I began to make sense of anything regarding this language. Especially helpful was page 56 where Mr. Eckstein explains how to associate an XSL (or CSS) stylesheet with an XML document. I have yet to see any other author or website point out this crucial, basic information. Without it, I'd still be fumbling around.