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REVIEW: "Learning XML", Erik T. Ray

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  • Rob Slade grandpa of Ryan Trevor Pride &
    BKLRNXML.RVW 20010708 Learning XML , Erik T. Ray, 2001, 0-596-00046-4, U$34.95/C$51.95 %A Erik T. Ray %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2001
      BKLRNXML.RVW 20010708

      "Learning XML", Erik T. Ray, 2001, 0-596-00046-4, U$34.95/C$51.95
      %A Erik T. Ray
      %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
      %D 2001
      %G 0-596-00046-4
      %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
      %O U$34.95/C$51.95 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
      %P 350 p.
      %T "Learning XML: Creating Self-Describing Data"

      XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is currently being seen as the cure
      for all the ills (and incompatibilities) of the Web, and, by extension
      (sorry), for information technology as a whole. Why this might
      happen, and how XML might be used, is not often made clear.

      Chapter one is enthusiastic and up-beat--but not very specific. We
      are told that XML allows you to describe data, and to create new data
      structures, but then again, pretty much every computer language ever
      invented does the same thing. We are told that it performs functions
      similar to SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and that, in
      fact, XML is a reduced version of SGML, but we are not told why SGML
      was too big, nor what we might be giving up in moving to XML. We are
      not given any useful example of what we might do with XML: in fact,
      the only realistic example in the chapter uses MathML (Math Markup
      Language). And the chapter ends by basically outlining the fact that
      nobody really supports XML yet.

      Chapter two provides clear examples of XML syntax and requirements,
      but only at a basic level. (For example, does the use of compound
      documents help with the use of multiple namespaces, or just make the
      problem worse?) There is, finally, an example of real XML using the
      Barebones DocBook application. Links are dealt with in chapter three.
      XLink is clear, though brief, with recognizable definitions of HTML
      image and anchor tags. The explanation of XPointer is more confused,
      and the section concludes with an example of strict XHTML (eXtensible
      HyperText Markup Language) which doesn't seem to fit the topic at all.
      Presentation and stylesheets are covered in chapter four,
      concentrating on the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) model. Chapter five
      examines two types of document models, spending most of the time
      explaining DTDs (Document Type Definitions) and then briefly looking
      at XSchema. While transformations are supposed to be the topic of
      chapter 6, the point is not really clear, and the text seems to deal
      primarily with XSLT (eXtensible Stylesheet Language for
      Transformations) simply as a special case of XSL (eXtensible
      Stylesheet Language). Internationalization is limited to the fact
      that you can specify encoding and language, in chapter seven. Chapter
      eight, on programming for XML, contains Perl code for a parser and
      syntax checker.

      This book is a good introduction to XML, and the various related
      technologies. It is difficult to say that, by the end of the work,
      you will actually have learned XML, but that has more to do with the
      current amorphous state of the technology than any fault in writing.

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2001 BKLRNXML.RVW 20010708

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      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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