From the book lists at Adware Report:

All information current as of 19:05:09 Pacific Time, Monday, 21 February 2005.

Learning XML, Second Edition

   by Erik T. Ray

    22 September, 2003


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Editorial description(s):
Although Learning XML covers XML rather broadly, it nevertheless presents the key elements of the technology with enough detail to familiarize the reader with this crucial markup language. This guide is brief enough to tackle in a weekend.

Author Erik T. Ray begins with an excellent summary of XML's history as an outgrowth of SGML and HTML. He outlines very clearly the elements of markup, demystifying concepts such as attributes, entities, and namespaces with numerous clear examples. To illustrate a real-world XML application, he gives the reader a look at a document written in DocBook--a publicly available XML document type for publishing technical writings--and explains the sections of the document step by step. A more simplified version of DocBook is used later in the book to illustrate transformation--a powerful benefit of XML.

The all-important Document Type Definition (DTD) is covered in depth, but the still-unofficial alternative, XML Schema, is only briefly addressed. The author makes liberal use of graphics, tables, and code to demonstrate concepts along the way, keeping the reader engaged and on track. Ray also goes deep into some discussion of programming XML utilities with Perl.

Learning XML is a very readable introduction to XML for readers with existing knowledge of markup and Web technologies. It meets its goals very well--to deliver a broad perspective of XML and its potential. --Stephen W. Plain

Topics covered:
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Info
A guide to XML and its capabilities, including references to real-life projects. Teaches designers what parts of XML are most helpful, with coverage of basic concepts and core syntax, the use of stylesheets, document modeling with DTDs and XML schema, and internationalization using Unicode. Softcover. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description
This new edition of the bestselling Learning XML provides web developers with a concise but grounded understanding of XML (the Extensible Markup Language) and its potential--not just a whirlwind tour of XML. Learning XML illustrates the core XML concepts and language syntax, in addition to important related tools such as the CSS and XSL styling languages and the XLink and XPointer specifications for creating rich link structures. It includes information about three schema languages for validation: W3C Schema, Schematron, and RELAX-NG, which are gaining widespread support from people who need to validate documents but aren't satisfied with DTDs. Also new in this edition is a chapter on XSL-FO, a powerful formatting language for XML.

Reader review(s):

thery ... too much of it..., March 2, 2001
I've always enjoyed reading O'Reilly books specially those related to Linux/Unix and the open source community. I have the learning perl book and it's a great book but since some time now the O'Reilly books I'm buying are really deceiving me... and this is one of them... I'm starting to learn XML and beleive me I'm a computer freak but with this book I was relly lost... too few complete examples I mean they could at least show you after the first 50 pages a small complete example but nothing... just theroy and bla bla bla... ZZZzzz.... So I stoped reading this one and bought the "beginning XML" from wrox today and after reading the first 25 pages I understand much more about XML and what it can do for me so... hey it's your money do what you want with it... I'm going to read my book... happy new year ! ;)

Suggested New Title: Anatomy of XML, March 2, 2003
By page 177 I realized that I was never going to touch a keyboard while reading this book. I can't speak for everyone, but when I pick up a book expecting to learn the topic, I need theory, reference, examples and structured "assignments". This title offers the first three, but I never get to apply what I am learning hands-on in a graduated fashion. When I am finished, I have little more than the ability to recognize the components of XML. Just because you can recognize all the foods in a grocery store, and know the origins of all the spices on your spice rack, doesn't mean you can cook; the same principal applies here. I am fully aware that XML is comprised of many different elements, and many of the XML development environments are very expensive, but many are free and could have been used to teach the concept clearer.

The title also has many errors, so the errata list on the publisher's web site is important. The book does not include any of the source code, so if you want that, you have to download it. Even then, it is not complete and file titles in the book do not always match the provided code file names.

If you are looking for a hands-on book to learn XML, this isn't the title. If you know XML and are looking for a reference, again - not for you. However, if you are interested in it from more of an administrative overview position, then the title is worth the read. It can provide many answers and give a good base of information without the need to actually write any XML on your own.

Good transition book from HTML, CSS --> XML, June 13, 2001
SHORT: I highly recommend this book if you know HTML and have some exposure to CSS; it's a good intro book to XML, which is what it's intended to be. The end result is that you'll know enough to get started with more technical books, and where to go for available web resources.

LONGER: The reasons that other people have given for not liking this book are some of the same reasons that I find it useful. I'm pretty well-versed in HTML and have some basic understanding of JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets. This book goes into detail about both and gives comparisons and evolutions that involve XML. I'm about halfway through it at the moment, and it's giving me a clear, not-to-technical view of XML. The other books I have go straight into the code, telling me HOW but not really explaining the WHY of everything. That's what makes this book great to me. The first half deals with explanation and presentation, while the last half is more code-heavy. The two other books I have strive to be highly technical, but proved to be a bit overwhelming for me as a complete newbie to the subject of XML.

Excellent book for programmers using XML, August 23, 2001
I am a C, Unix Shell, and Perl programmer. This means that I have a lot of interaction with XML.

I'm not really interested in sitting down and learning XML because I wouldnt actually go and write it myself. There are plenty of perl modules (XML::Parser, XML::Twig, and so on) that will do that for me. However, I wanted to have some understanding of what XML actually was, and how to read it if I were presented in it.

This book started very slow and very easily, and moved into some more advanced (if a little more dry) subject matter. The author uses witty, enjoyable examples, and is very clear at all times about what is being explained.

I would recommend this to most programmers who want to just "know what XML is all about," as it isnt particularly technical (if you are just skimming), and its technical enough for people to get into if need be. It also covers most topics very thoroughly.

Another gem from OReilly.

Nice way to kickstart learning XML, April 6, 2001
I needed a quick, well-structured intro to XML for a consulting assignment. This book serves that purpose well. It covers many of the important and relevant XML technologies, and provides enough depth to get started in each. The sections on XPath and XSLT are particularly helpful. The book looses a review star, however, for its poor XML Programming section. DOM is barely mentioned, and SAX is demonstrated using Perl. Perl is great for some things, but I think it's a poor choice here. Java is far more mainstream and easier to read for XML programming, and should have been used instead. Brett Mclaughlin's book, Java and XML, provides a much better choice for introductions to SAX and DOM.

Solid!, February 28, 2001
As with virtually all O'Reilly books, Learning XML is an excellent reference book. It takes a look at all "parts" of this fairly new markup language, which you could say "boldy goes where HTML has not gone before." XML lets the user create their own markup language, but it isn't without its complexities, which is where this book helps greatly. Chapters on how it got started and what it is, the actual markup (including detailed explanations of elements, attributes, namespaces, and entities), connecting resources with links, stylesheets, and even one on programming in XML help the reader understand more about how this markup language can be best used.

A great book to have if you want or need to learn the "nuts and bolts" of XML.

A Good Introduction for XML Authors, October 2, 2001
The book "Learning XML" by Eric T. Ray is a basic introduction to XML. It covers the markup elements, links, presentation, data type definition, transformations and programming for XML.

The book is truly for the novice. The very basic concepts are introduced and illustrated in great detail. The text is written quite well, and the illustrations do help to understand the presented concepts and examples.

The first chapters on the core concepts, the markup elements, links and presentation in XML describe all syntax elements using a graphical syntax illustration. The components of syntax elements are clearly labeled and referred to in the text. The application of all elements is further illustrated with simple examples that concentrate on the essence of the different markup elements.

The chapter on DTDs is equally well written and DTD concepts and syntax elements are introduced in the same careful way as the markup elements in the first chapters. I would have expected more than 4 pages on XML schema. Yes, it's still a draft, but the basic behavior and structure are pretty well defined by now, and parsers accepting XML schema are available.

The text has a couple of chapters and sections that disappointed me. The chapter on transformations isn't structured as well as the rest of the book and contains a 20 page long, undocumented and uncommented example of an XSLT transformation program. This example has not been written by the author, and that might be reason it is not explained in detail, but at least a few comments would have been nice.

The last chapter on programming for XML is the most disappointing one. The elements of an XML processor are only introduced very briefly. The chapter does contain a Perl example of a XML syntax checker but I don't think that developing such low level functionality is the most important aspect of programming for XML. A more detailed coverage of the APIs SAX and DOM would probably have been more important.

Overall, this is a good introduction or XML authors. The basic concepts are presented out nicely and the illustrations are very helpful. The book is not a great reference if you plan to learn how to write programs for XML.

Learning XML a review, August 5, 2001
I purchased this book because (1) I want to learn XML, (2) I have a great many other O'reilly books and generally they are extremly informative. However, overall I was very disapointed with this book, I must say that I am still reading through it, but so far.. too much woffle, not nearly enough examples and those that are present dont appear to work correctly. Nothing is more fustrating than typing in both XML and an accompanying stylesheet, to find that either the XML will not

validate because of unrecognised atributes, or that the page will not render sanely. I admit I am using Internet Explorer.. version 5.5 but the XML non-validations using a registered copy of XMLWriter are most fustrating.

The ftp site examples also fail to validate or execute correctly.

In addition.. am I the only person who has yet to see a practical example of XML in action?? ...All in All.. learning XML is a disapointment.

A nice enough book, but..., May 22, 2001
As with most O'Reilly books, the production/editing of this book is excellent. It is a great introduction to the technologies around XML, but doesn't really give you enough to get started with XML.

For example, there is a great introduction to current XML parsers out there for XML, but you never really find out how to use them (granted, this may be the topic of a more advanced book...). What exactly do I do with an XML file? I'm not sure this question is really answered.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm glad I bought this book, and I know this book will be a good reference source in the future. I'm just not sure this is the first place to stop in learning XML.

not for developers, July 4, 2003
The first few chapters of this book on the basics of XML are good, but stay away if you're a software developer wanting to learn about XML in depth. Even if you're an XML author, you will find this book lacking in the latter chapters. Almost all the discussion is extremely general and theoretical. Occasionally the author sprinkles in a few fucntional XML snippets, but they are not nearly enough. Furthermore, there are only about a dozen complete examples of functional XML available in the tar/zip file available online at O'Reilly.

The paucity of examples was particularly frustrating in the XSLT chapter. By its very nature, XSLT screams out for illustrative examples showing 'before' and 'after' transformations, but the author provides very few such examples.

Another thing that really irked me was the condescending writing style of the author. Here's an example from Ch. 4 on CSS:

"A CSS stylesheet is a collection of rules... An analogy for this process is painting-by-numbers. In this activity, you purchase a painting kit that comes with paints..."

Really now! This style of writing is not necessary and is frankly offensive. XML inherently is not a beginner's topic; a reader who picks up this book is most likely an IT manager or a developer and does not need to be talked-down upon.

If you're a java developer, I suggest you take a look at "Processing XML with Java" by Harold.

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