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Beginning XML with DOM and Ajax
by Sas Jacobs


Apress
1 edition
June 2006
456 pages

Reviewed by Pauline McNamara, July 2006
  (6 of 10)


This book promises a lot: XML for beginners, plus DOM, some Ajax, everything from novice to professional. Inside, the contents expand to using CSS or Flash to display XML, plus server-side XML processing with 2 case studies.

The first four chapters start out feeling a little heavy on description and a little light on examples. The chapter on CSS finally explains using more code; but as it lists all the caveats involved you wonder why it was included at all. The XSLT introduction is short, not offering many expanded explanations on how templates actually work, probably making the advanced XSLT in the following chapter harder for an XML beginner. The rest of the book touches on the various ways that a web developer might encounter XML, dealing either with the DOM or XML data.

This book is intended for "web developers at all levels", both newcomers to XML and more experienced developers. As is often the case with a book that tries to offer something for everyone, that something ends up not being a whole lot. A beginner who wants to learn XML from scratch would probably need to pick up a book that focuses more on XML and XSLT. An experienced developer would probably look for (or have) more dense references for each of the technologies mentioned. This book would probably work best for someone who is looking for a more lightweight overview of the different ways that XML comes in contact with other web technologies.

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XSLT 2.0 Web Development
by Dmitry Kirsanov


Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
April 2004
448 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, July 2004
  (10 of 10)


If to try to classify this book, I would put it in "how to's" category, rather than "tutorials". The book summarizes author's significant experience with building web sites that are sanely organized and easy to maintain. The approach he advocates is somewhat minimalist: XML to markup the content, XSLT to transform it into HTML and to perform other auxiliary tasks -- "The Pragmatic Programmer" followers will appreciate this. It should be noted that the content is mostly static or treated as such; how to fetch data out of a database and to build an XML DOM/SAX representation is left for other numerous books to ponder. While XSLT is the main subject, the scope of the book is broader. It includes developing an XML vocabulary for the site, choosing a schema language and writing a schema (here Schematron gets special attention), designing stylesheets for transformation, including tasks like checking files existence and generating images via extension functions written in Java. Finally, there is a section about batch processing with XSLT for automatic generation/regeneration of the whole site. Every task is illustrated with examples, generic enough so that you can modify them for your own project.

Orthogonal to what has been explained is the question of how it has been explained. The author's writing style is dense, even dry, the text is packed with information. It took me probably three times longer to read this book than it does usually, as there was no superfluous verbiage that could be quickly glanced over. The book doesn't make dull reading, though. Not only is it highly informative, it also gives aesthetical pleasure of a well-crafted work. The concepts are thoughtfully illustrated and made very clear; terminology is used precisely and consistently. Developers will appreciate an honest, "no buzzwords, no marketing hype" approach, and accuracy in every small detail.

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Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
April 2004
448 pages

Reviewed by Dirk Schreckmann, July 2004
  (9 of 10)


"XSLT 2.0 Web Development" by Dmitry Kirsanov, teaches a system of transforming semantically structured content into browser-ready HTML including the proper separation of content from presentation, structuring the content into "cleanly separated semantic layers", developing a XML vocabulary for each layer, validating the XML and content structure, using XSLT to transform the XML content to HTML, and integrating the transformation system with web development frameworks and development tools.

As described in the introduction, the author suggests readers should have a basic understanding of XML syntax and terms, as well as "know some XSLT and especially XPath". This reader is comfortable reading, editing and creating XML documents, but don't ask me to write an XML DTD. Before reading this book, the only idea I had about XSLT was that it's used to transform XML documents into HTML. That's it. I had no problems following the well-structured and well-explained lessons throughout the book, as well as applying those lessons while developing a real-life website.

This 406 page book consists of seven chapters containing plenty of well-organized and well-used text and diagrams, example code showing "all aspects of an XML-to-HTML transformation", and plenty of screenshots. The contents also include a discussion of the basic premises of XML, explanations and examples of XML source definitions including schema and regulations, a Schematron schema for document validation, XSLT extensions including new additions to XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0, coverage of tools available to assist developers, and a chapter on integrating an XML/XSLT system into a web server setup, the bulk of which is devoted to Apache Cocoon.

This book and the topics it teaches are not for the feeble minded. Reading it while falling asleep in bed is not recommended - you won't really get it. I would recommend this book to anyone concerned with organizing website content into meaningful semantic layers, well-separated from presentation and business logic, while creating a system that is easier to understand and maintain than many website projects I've run across.

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The XML Schema Companion
by Neil Bradley


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
November 2003
336 pages

Reviewed by Andrew Monkhouse, December 2003
  (8 of 10)


This book provides a very good explanation of the features of the XML Schema standard, and as such it will prove to be very valuable to anyone primarily modeling XML documents.

The author demonstrates, using very clear examples, how the syntax can be used and, where possible, some of the possible pitfalls you might encounter. A basic understanding of XML is required, however the author takes care to ensure that this is all that is required.

Starting with the very basics, the author shows how to build simple Schemas, including examples of the XML documents they detail. Once that is out of the way, the author then dissects individual structures and elements, showing how they can be used.

Being primarily a reference book on XML Schemas, the writing is fairly dry. So it may not be suitable for someone just starting with XML Schemas. However when you have learnt to use XML Schemas you will no doubt find this to be an excellent reference guide.

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Effective XML
by Elliotte Rusty Harold


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
October 2003
336 pages

Reviewed by John Wetherbie, March 2006
  (10 of 10)


Elliotte Rusty Harold states in the introduction of Effective XML that the book is neither an introductory book nor an XML tutorial. Rather, it is a distillation of the author's experience using and teaching XML and how to use it effectively. The book does a great job of explaining how to use XML and its related technologies.

The book is divided into four major sections: Syntax, Structure, Semantics, and Implementation. Each of the fifty Items packs a lot of information into a few pages. The Items span topics such as why you should Include an XML Declaration (Item 1), Make Structure Explicit through Markup (Item 11), Program to Standard APIs (Item 31), and Write in Unicode (Item 38). Even the Introduction is valuable because it sets the definitions for XML-related terms used in the rest of the book that the author has found to be used interchangeably or inconsistently.

I found the book very readable and like that the information is presented in digestible chunks. Effective XML isn't meant to hype XML but to identify what the actual capabilities of XML and its related technologies are and how best to use them. The book does an outstanding job at this task.

Full disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review.

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Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
October 2003
336 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, April 2004
  (9 of 10)


Imagine you are given the opportunity to ask one of the leading experts on XML 50 questions. And further imagine that this expert will answer those questions clearly and completely. You can stop imagining because Elliotte Rusty Harold has done exactly that in this book. Whether you are a relative newbie or an experienced XML developer, you will find useful information in this book. Should I use DOM or SAX? What's the right way to encode binary data? When should I use processing instructions? Should I use XML 1.1? Do I really need to parse my documents? This is just a random sample of the questions that Harold answers in this book. Every page contains valuable information. Harold is unusual in that even though he is an expert he still remembers what it is like to not know something. His explanations don't leave any blanks that you need to fill in. There are no jumps from point A to point Z without taking you through the points in between.

So who should buy this book? Anyone who has some knowledge of XML who is interested in working with XML the right way. Whether you are developing applications to process or create an XML document or whether you are simply designing an XML document you need to read this book. Once you understand the basics of XML, this book will take you to the next step of being able to work with XML effectively.

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Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
October 2003
336 pages

Reviewed by Jim Yingst, February 2004
  (9 of 10)


The title Effective XML invites comparison with industry classics Effective C++ and Effective Java - each compact collections of very good and useful advice which help the reader master the finer points of the a programming language. This book is, thankfully, a worthy successor to this tradition.

Effective XML is aimed at developers with a decent working understanding of XML, though not necessarily a huge amount of experience with it. But even if you are so experienced with XML that you already know everything the book has to say (very unlikely), you may well find it useful to have a copy on hand to smack the heads of your less experienced co-workers who are in need of some good advice. Because you'll probably find you agree with what ERH has to say, and it can be easier to invoke this book as an authority than to spend your own time trying to convince wayward developers of the error of their ways.

Little time is spent here explaining the details of how to do things; instead the focus more is on when and why to do them. Or why not. The interest is mostly in core concepts like syntax and structure, DTDs, schemas, parsing, etc, emphasizing important but subtle details you may well have missed when you first studied them. The writing style is very clear, concise, and practical. I'd recommend this to just about anyone working with XML in some form.

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Using XML with Legacy Business Applications
by Michael C. Rawlins


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
August 2003
624 pages

Reviewed by Johannes de Jong, January 2004
  (10 of 10)


A lot of IT people are busy making different applications running on different platforms "talk" to each other. XML was invented as the "Esperanto" of the IT world to get these systems to understand each other. In practice however it just isn't that simple, as most of these applications don't talk XML yet, until this book.

This book is a real "do it" book. It does not teach you XML or XSLT but shows you how to use it. What I especially liked is that he discusses his design considerations; he wants you to understand the why's. Once he thinks you know the basics he goes back to his basic design and improves it, to make it make it fully reusable and modular making it even better.

Mr. Rawlins gives you toolbox of utilities, with the source code, that can become the building blocks for your own application integration system. I have not come across a book with as much usable code in my IT career. We have already redesigned quite a few of our systems because of it. If you are into "connectivity" you can't be without this book.

P.S. The word Legacy in the title does not imply big mainframes.

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XML for Data Architects Designing for Reuse and Integration
by James Bean


Morgan Kaufmann
1 edition
June 2003
250 pages

Reviewed by Ajith Kallambella, September 2003
  (6 of 10)


In a nutshell, this book is all about understanding XML schemas. As the use of XML transactions to exchange, share, and move data among enterprise systems grows, enforcing data standards and structural efficiency plays a critical role for ensuring overall flexibility, robustness and extensibility.

The author starts the book with a discussion about various XML application scenarios and attempts to classify the use of XML data containers into three forms viz., a document, transaction or a message. He argues that any form of cross platform exchange and sharing of enterprise data falls in to one of the three.

He then convinces how the use of highly reusable structures and custom data types affects data architecture. If you are wondering, data architecture is a term used to describe XML structures that plumb disparate enterprise systems. Here are two new buzzwords - Application to Consumer (A2C) and Application to application (A2A). Since XML also used to describe data extracts from, insertions into, and exchanges between application systems and databases, it is important to understand variation in database data type support.

In the chapters that follow, XML schema is introduced as the singular standard for achieving maximum reusability and enforcing data standards. For each of the three XML usages, he quotes XML snippets and critiques on various approaches. The focus remains on a designing an XML schema for maximum reuse and extensibility.

The book should have been named as "XML Schema primer". Most of the chapters are dedicated to discuss application of XML schemas. The amount of material covering actual process, challenges and strategy recommendations to achieve optimal data architecture does not do any justice to the title.

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Definitive XSL-FO
by G. Ken Holman


Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
March 2003
480 pages

Reviewed by Lasse Koskela, December 2003
  (8 of 10)


Definitive XSL-FO is definitely definitive. It's not a huge tome, but does a good job packing a huge specification into less than 500 pages still retaining readability.

Rendering documents is something very few developers ever master, I believe. If you're one of those who are disciplined enough to actually learn XSL-FO, this book is a safe bet.

After giving a thorough introduction to the history and related specifications, as well as the fundamental concepts of the subject area, mister Holman switches from "prose" to "reference" mode. Most of the book is all about introducing individual subjects in a concise way along with the element descriptions. Lists, tables, floats, footnotes, and so on. I have to give credit to the author for managing to come up with a granularity for these chapters that doesn't feel too overwhelming to grasp.

For a technical reference, a good index is something not to haggle about. Obviously the true level of usefulness can only be conceived via practical use, and without an ongoing project actually using XSL-FO, I must resort to a gut feeling, which is a good one. Also, the layout and typesetting is visually very functional which is yet another key requirement for a reference type of book.

To me, Definitive XSL-FO strikes as being simply a valuable reference. Far more approachable than the W3C document itself, and manages to teach the subject in layman's terms. A complex subject made simple.

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XML Data Management: Native XML and XML-Enabled Database Systems
by Akmal B. Chaudhri, Awais Rashid, Roberto Zicari


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
March 2003
688 pages

Reviewed by Valentin Crettaz, January 2004
  (8 of 10)


This book aims at presenting the latest XML data management technologies. Each of the five parts of the book aims at discussing solutions to the problematics of data management using XML and related technologies and compares the two most popular techniques available today, namely XML-enabled database systems and native XML database systems. The first technique employs conventional RDBMS and OODBMS solutions for storing XML documents, whereas the second simply persists the DOM representation of the XML document on disk.

The author dedicates one part of the book for presenting XML-enabled database systems, such as IBM DB2, Oracle9i and Microsoft SQL Server 2000. Another part is devoted to native XML database systems, such as Software AG's Tamino XML Server, eXist and Sleepycat's Berkeley XML database.

The author also discusses some concrete case studies on data management with XML, such as biologic data management and its integration with the BLAST algorithm "Basic Local Alignment Search tools" for DNA research.

The book further provides different benchmark systems that can be used for analyzing the performance of the database systems presented.

This book is an excellent reference for both XML-aware developers who would like to integrate XML data management techniques into their projects and for vendors who would like to build new XML storage mechanisms.

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Cocoon: Developer's Handbook
by Lajos Moczar and Jeremy Aston


Sams
1 edition
December 2002
816 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, April 2003
  (8 of 10)


Cocoon is a Java-based open source XML content manager and publishing engine from the Apache project. This book was written as an introduction to Cocoon for the developer with a good background in XML and Java but with no background in Cocoon. Part I of the book is an introduction to Cocoon. I found this part of the book to be very difficult and confusing. There was a lot of writing on Generators, Transformers, and Serializers, but the overall discussion was hard to follow. Fortunately, this was only the first 65 pages of the book. Starting with Part II, the book takes on a whole new and much better flavor. After a chapter describing how to install Cocoon, the authors go right into some real examples of how to use Cocoon. Suddenly all the information from Part I which felt incomplete started making sense. The examples and sample code (which need to be downloaded) are excellent in explaining how to use Cocoon. This section goes through example after example, each demonstrating more of the functionality of Cocoon. All the examples worked exactly as advertised and were well designed to demonstrate the many capabilities of Cocoon. Part III of the book discusses advanced topics such as database connectivity, web services, and integrating Cocoon with EJBs. Part IV covers design factors, administration, etc. The last two parts of the book are reference tools. Overall, I though the authors did a good job of making Cocoon easy to understand.

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XSLT Cookbook
by Sal Mangano


O'Reilly
1 edition
December 2002
670 pages

Reviewed by John Wetherbie, May 2003
  (8 of 10)


XSLT Cookbook presents specific solutions to situations you come across when using XSLT. While the book can help solve an immediate problem it can also be used as an intermediate or advanced level text to get a better understanding of XSLT and how to write stylesheets.

There are fourteen chapters dealing with topics such as Strings, Dates and Numbers, Selecting and Traversing, XML to HTML, Code Generation, and Testing and Debugging. Each problem has a short problem statement, a solution, and a discussion of the solution. The solution discussions often describe alternates and why they were not selected as the preferred solution.

I have not read the entire book yet but picked chapters that were of interest to me. The Selecting and Traversing and Testing and Debugging chapters contain approaches I could use right away. The Generic and Functional Programming chapter was very interesting and I wish this book had been available in mid-2002 when I was doing code generation work with XSLT. Good stuff in every chapter I have read!

This is a book that most, if not all, XSLT developers should have. For beginners it provides concrete examples of how to use XSLT. For more advanced developers it provides a good reference for solving that problem you are trying to solve.

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Processing XML with Java A Guide to SAX, DOM, JDOM, JAXP, and TrAX
by Elliotte Rusty Harold


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
November 2002
1120 pages

Reviewed by Matthew Phillips, January 2003
  (10 of 10)


Another, equally appropriate, title for book could be Everything I wanted to know about processing XML with Java, but I was afraid to ask. This book provides very detailed descriptions of all of the above APIs.

The most impressive aspect of this book is organization. It is very easy to use the table of contents to jump right into what you need to learn. The table of contents also includes a list of examples and a list of figures in case you need a brief refresher. The appendix provides a quick reference to all of the covered APIs.

You need to know a little about XML before reading this book, but thanks to the first 5 chapters you only need to know a little. Every topic is backed up with a lot of source code for you to play with. I looked pretty hard to find something negative to say about this book, but there just isn t anything. If you want to learn how to process XML using Java, or need something on your desk to refer back to as necessary, look no further than this book.

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XML CD Bookshelf
by O'Reilly


O'Reilly
1 edition
November 2002
600 pages

Reviewed by Valentin Crettaz, February 2003
  (8 of 10)


This unique digital bookshelf provides a nice collection of seven essential XML books that contain over 3,000 pages of very useful information about various XML applications. The package contains both an electronic and print versions of XML in a Nutshell (2nd), as well as the electronic versions of XSLT, XML Schema, SAX2, Java & XML (2nd), Java & XSLT, and Perl & XML. The first four books deal with pure XML matters while the three remaining concentrate on the practical use of XML with two different programming languages, namely Java and Perl.

The bundled companion CD-ROM offers a convenient access to all seven books as extensively hyperlinked HTML pages (no PDF versions!!) that can be viewed with your favorite browser. If you don't feel like reading on your screen, you may print out the electronic versions. You can also benefit from a powerful search engine to rapidly search for specific topics contained in the different books. All individual indexes are centralized within a master index, thus facilitating keyword searching across all the books.

This bookshelf is a very good resource for both expert and "wanna-be" XML developers. The former may start with XML in a Nutshell to get a grasp at XML, while the latter may jump on more advanced and specific topics like XSLT or XML Schema.

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XSL FO
by Dave Pawson


O'Reilly
1 edition
August 2002
264 pages

Reviewed by Mark Spritzler, October 2002
  (6 of 10)


XSL:FO is about taking XML documents and transforming them into XSL:FO documents which can then be sent to an FO procecssor to create PDFs or other print formatting documents.

It focuses on the tags and properties of XSL:FO. This book does not cover using it with your Java programs.

After trudging through a reading of O'Reilly's book on XSL:FO, I have determined that this is not a book to read straight through. I have also determined that this is not a good book to read if you are a beginner to the XSL:FO world.

This book is very detailed and covers all aspects of XSL:FO. It reminded me of the time I had read O'Reilly's UML in a Nutshell. Their examples are hard to picture, and therefore were difficult for me to understand. Maybe this is because I am a visual person. Even so, This book seems to be a great reference book to use when you are creating XSL:FO documents to transform. However, from my inexperience with XSL:FO I could not determine how valuable a reference it would be.

I would highly recommend buying this book only if you have XSL:FO experience and can grasp it's concepts quickly and need a good reference book. However, if you are a beginner like myself, I would look to some of the good tutorials that are online, or in a good magazine like Java Developer's Journal.

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The XSL Companion
by Neil Bradley


Addison-Wesley Professional
second edition
August 2002
480 pages

Reviewed by David O'Meara, January 2004
  (7 of 10)


Careful, lest you (like me) get caught out with the difference between 'reference' and 'companion'. The 'XSL Companion' is a good book, but it doesn't aim to teach XSL and related technologies and may not be accessible without some prior knowledge.

By assuming some prior knowledge and not trying to build everything from first principles, it makes the text shorter and clearer, and allows the author to concentrate on the areas critical to XSL. The examples are also short and concise and make this a nicely compact book.

A down side is the way the author keeps the book completely theoretical and based on XSL standards without referring to any specifics. This is the part that will be the most frustrating to the uninitiated, since the book doesn't help you get started at all. It also neglects to cover 'XSL in the real world', such as implementation-specific problems, since it doesn't list any implementations at any point in the text.

This is a very useful and concise book, but if you haven't already done a reasonable amount of work in the area, you should be prepared to search the internet for the parts omitted from the book.

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XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web
by Jack Park et al


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
July 2002
640 pages

Reviewed by Valentin Crettaz, January 2004
  (9 of 10)


With the ever-increasing popularity of the Internet, it becomes more and more difficult to cope with the huge amount of information that is produced every day anywhere in the world. The information produced is often semantically poor and comprehensible only by people. This prevents software applications and the like from making use of such information via the web.

This is the first book on the XML topic maps (XTM) technology, written by the most famous leaders of the topic maps community (www.topicmaps.org), aims at presenting topic mapping with XML as a novel technology providing support for organizing and representing knowledge.

Each of the seventeen chapters of the book presents a different aspect of the XTM technology. The authors first introduce the topic map paradigm (topic, association, occurrence) and further discuss various subjects, including representation and visualization of topic maps, open source and commercial tools that provide support for creating, maintaining and merging topic maps, comparison between topic maps and semantic networks, and using topic maps for knowledge organization and ontological engineering.

This book provides an interesting discussion on how to build rich content web sites with XML topic maps and XSLT style sheets. It also demonstrates how topic maps can be integrated with RDF in order to make the XTM technology become a key player in Tim Berners-Lee's Semantic Web initiative.

This book is targeted at people and organizations that need strong technology support for quick and durable organization of private or corporate information systems.

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Secure XML
by Donald E. Eastlake, Kitty Niles


Pearson Education
1 edition
July 2002
560 pages

Reviewed by Valentin Crettaz, May 2004
  (8 of 10)


When looking back, it is safe to say that using XML has become one of the most preferred ways of transferring data across the web. With the rise of web services and given the way the Internet is organized and governed, this ubiquity raises the fundamental issue of how to effectively protect the content of an XML transmission at the application level.
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This book presents the efforts of two well-known consortia (IETF and W3C) working on the XML Digital Signature, XML Encryption and XML Key Management System standards. This book is meant to be within anybody's range as prerequisite knowledge in neither XML nor cryptography is required. Consequently, this means that about a third of this 500 pages book is dedicated to introducing both topics..
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The authors do an outstanding job of presenting the technical details and cover areas such as, XML basics, digital cryptography fundamentals, XML canonicalization techniques, XML encryption, and key management. This is one of the most comprehensive resources on the subject currently available in store. I really enjoyed reading it and I would recommend it to any developer in need of a solid understanding of how XML communications can be protected against undesirable intrusions..
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On the downside, even though the authors have presented two concrete applications of XML digital signatures (i.e., P3P XMLDSIG and SOAP XMLDSIG profiles), I would have much appreciated to see a case study about a plausible application of the technologies presented and how they fit into the big picture.

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XML and Java
by Maruyama Hiroshi et al


Addison-Wesley Professional
second edition
May 2002
688 pages

Reviewed by Andrew Monkhouse, December 2003
  (9 of 10)


Java developers who need to learn how to work with XML technologies will appreciate this book.

The introductory chapter, lightly touches on basics of XML. From then on the book works through the major APIs a Java developer will use to work with XML. The examples start off as a very simple XML document with a very basic Java application developed to work with it. Then the document and/or the Java application are enhanced to provide more complex scenarios and solutions. Common problems are discussed, as are their solutions.

I was pleased to see that the authors have considered the entire life cycle of working with XML documents, rather than assuming the user know how to get an XML document to work with. So no matter what situation the reader finds themselves in they will find an applicable section in the book.

Having so many authors does mean that there are variations in writing style, however it appears considerable effort has gone into minimizing the variations. One of the major areas I noticed was some authors had line numbers next to the sample code which were referenced in the chapter. Other authors did not dissect their code. However all code samples are easy to read, and the text going with them is of high quality, so I do not believe that this would cause a reader any problems.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone who needs to work with XML from within a Java program

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Java & XML Data Binding
by Brett McLaughlin


O'Reilly
1 edition
May 2002
214 pages

Reviewed by Mark Spritzler, June 2002
  (7 of 10)


Welcome to Data Binding. Not sure where to go? Just pick up Java & XML Data Binding by Brett McLaughlin. He'll show you where to go. Not that its too difficult to find your way, as using Data Binding is easy. But Brett not only makes it easier, he also demonstrates the best practices, the package limitations, and how-to's on the other packages that either pre-date JAXB or extend it, past its limitations.

The author is the founder of Zeus, one of the other data binding implementations. But Brett does not try to sell one implementation over another. He successfully presents his material objectively.

Data Binding is the ability to convert XML documents into Java objects and back quickly with very little coding on your part. With a DTD and a Data Binding Schema (XML) you run xjc and it automatically generates your class code for you. So now with just 3 lines of code, you can convert that XML into a Java Object.

I found the book to be a very easy read. There is lots of code for you to practice with. Brett's explanations are easily understood, and he throws in some good humor to keep this book light.

I guess the final question of whether to buy the book comes down to whether you need Data Binding in your applications. If the answer is "You bet your boots I do," I highly recommend you buy this book.

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Mastering XMI: Java Programming with XMI, XML, and UML
by Timothy J. Grose, Gary C. Doney, Stephen A. Brodsky


Wiley
unknown edition
April 2002
480 pages

Reviewed by Valentin Crettaz, September 2002
  (8 of 10)


This book shows the benefits of using an XML-based standard called the XML Metadata Interchange (XMI). It presents XMI 2.0 as an elegant facility for integrating different heterogeneous systems. One chapter is dedicated to showing how the IBM WebSphere Studio application makes a real-world use of XMI (trial version on the CD-ROM). All Java examples of the book, as well as the XMI Framework, a high-level API for manipulating XMI files, can be found on the CD-ROM. The authors assume that no previous knowledge of XMI, XML, or UML is required. Thus, the first part of the book explains all the necessary XML and UML concepts and goes on with presenting XMI concepts in details. The second part presents different ways of using XMI. The authors show different algorithms for reverse engineering UML models from XML documents. They also explain how to manipulate simple and complex XMI documents with the standard DOM and SAX XML APIs, as well as with the XMI Framework and the Java Object Bridge (JOB). A special attention is given to XMI schemas that enable powerful validation of XMI documents. It is also shown what role XMI plays in the new Object Management Group's (OMG) software development approach, the Model Driven Architecture (MDA). This book is an accurate and well written resource that contains simple and clearly explained examples. I would recommend it to any Java software developer who is willing to start or is already using XMI.

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J2EE and XML Development
by Kurt Gabrick, David Weiss et al.


Manning Publications
1 edition
April 2002
320 pages

Reviewed by Ajith Kallambella, June 2002
  (8 of 10)


A new acronym is born every week. JAXP, JAXB, JAXM, JAXR, SOAP, JAXRPC, JDOM... and the list continues. You have heard them all; you have probably played with them too. Perhaps you are even eager to start using them in your application, but not sure where to start. In the grand scheme of things, it becomes rather confusing how these technologies juxtapose and work in synergy to solve a problem.

This book helps you understand, appreciate and most importantly start using XML support offered by J2EE. It begins with an introduction to various ways XML can be used in a plain Java application - parsers, the all new JAXPack, parsing with JAXP, XML messaging with JAXM, data-binding with JAXB, transformations etc. With this background readers are quickly whisked into the realm of distributed computing.

The subsequent chapters present the readers a plethora of opportunities for using XML in a typical J2EE enterprise application for improving robustness and manageability. Facilitating component interaction and collaboration in a distributed environment using protocols such as XML-RPC and JAXM, implementing SOAP and Webservices, XML based persistence, Java collections with JDOM, and even XML for MVC based user interface programming. Every concept is explained with a concise example illustrating its intended use and scope.

Benefits offered by XML are too expensive to ignore. This book is your survival guide to understand the repertoire of XML based technologies and adopt them in your existing enterprise system.

A free copy is available at www.theserverside.com

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Java, XML, and the JAXP
by Arthur Griffith


Wiley
1 edition
January 2002
216 pages

Reviewed by Valentin Crettaz, August 2002
  (10 of 10)


On one side, the Java language has been designed to write portable applications. On the other side, XML has been designed to contain portable data. It is natural that those two technologies had to meet at some point. This book provides a very comprehensive guide to Java and XML programming using Sun's reference implementation of the Java API for XML Programming (JAXP). The book is structured into four logical parts. First, in chapters 1 and 2, XML concepts and syntax are briefly introduced. Chapter 3 sheds some light on the SAX and DOM API. The author then shows how to parse, read and manipulate XML data using SAX in chapters 4 and 5. Chapters 6 and 7 deal with how to parse, read, manipulate and edit an XML document with DOM. Chapter 8 introduces XSL Transformation as a means of transforming an input XML document into any kind of output document. Finally, in chapter 9, the author shows how easy Java and XML development gets when using Ant build scripts. Basically, I really liked the introductory character of this book as well as the provision of a substantial amount of simple examples that are kept to the point. The content of the book is both clear and simple, and contains very few typos.

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XQuery
by Kurt Cagle, Mark Fussel, Nalleli Lopez, Dan Maharry, Rogerio Saran


Wrox
1 edition
January 2002
200 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, June 2002
  (8 of 10)


XQuery is a high-level, declarative language for querying XML documents. Its importance can be assured by anyone who had to resort to low-level DOM/SAX APIs to mine information out of angle brackets. XQuery's role is planned to be similar to what SQL is for relational data, and in the final account to supersede SQL. The standards haven't reached final status yet, and I did not expect from this book more than translation of the current version of standards into a human language. And in fact, first three chapters do provide such an overview in a very readable form. Considering this is the only book on XQuery available, this would be good enough, yet next two chapters provide further insight. They compare XQuery's capabilities to those of SQL and XSLT, and this introduces new dimensions to the picture. The discussion is practically oriented, it's almost "learning by example" rather than formal definitions or excursions into an underlying theory. The other side of the medal is that the material often overlaps. The last two chapters describe current implementations of XQuery in .NET and Java Platforms, for those who want to try things out.

Overall, you will get an idea what capabilities can be expected from this new language and how it fits into already existing XML specifications. For any other language, I would ask for more, but this one formally doesn't even exist yet, so I consider my appetite satisfied.

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Definitive XML Schema
by Priscilla Walmsley


Prentice Hall PTR
1 edition
December 2001
560 pages

Reviewed by Madhav Lakkapragada, November 2004
  (8 of 10)


A really good book on XML Schema. This is the first book I read on XML Schema and I understand Schema's much better now. The book describes the Schema constructs with relatively simple examples. The examples illustrate the section being discussed and explain the relevance of the various features.

The only odd thing was that some of the explanations were deferred to later chapters, which I personally, see as a hindrance to the flow of the topic. Except for this one little oversight, I think the overall presentation is very well written.

My review is based on the first ten chapters and at this time I am not able to comment on the advanced features covered in the book.

This book helped me answer some questions in the Javaranch XML forum.

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Essential XML Quick Reference: A Programmer's Reference to XML, XPath, XSLT, XML Schema, SOAP, and More
by Aaron Skonnard, Martin Gudgin


Addison-Wesley Professional
1 edition
November 2001
432 pages

Reviewed by John Wetherbie, February 2003
  (9 of 10)


Diamonds are carbon that has been compressed in the high temperatures and pressures found far below the earth's crust in a region called the "upper mantle". Because of their beauty and rarity diamonds are highly valued. Now imagine that a stack of specifications related to XML is our "carbon" and that two gentlemen, Aaron Skonnard and Martin Gudgin, play the role of the upper mantle. The result would be Essential XML Quick Reference. This gem of a XML reference will be a valuable asset if you are working with XML.

The book presents reference material from the following specifications:

XML 1.0 and Namespaces
DTDs
XPath 1.0
XPointer, XInclude, and XML Base
XSLT 1.0
SAX 2.0
DOM Level 2
XML Schema
SOAP 1.1

All the topics are solidly covered but I thought that the coverage of XSLT, Schemas, and XPath to be a cut above. I especially liked the XPath chapter. It has diagrams that provide examples of the XPath tree structure, document order, node string-values, and how axes work, along with first-rate examples of how the elements of XPath work.

So, what's not to like? Very little. Since SOAP was covered I think it would have been nice to have had a section on WSDL (Web Service Description Language). There are also a few typos here and there but they don't detract from the information that is being conveyed.

This book is a sparkling reference for XML and related technologies.

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Strategic XML
by Scott Means


Sams
1 edition
September 2001
264 pages

Reviewed by Madhav Lakkapragada, November 2001
  (6 of 10)


The author attempts to present an eagles eye view of some business problems and how XML can make a difference. The first part gives a good introduction (again from 10000 feet high) of various XML technologies. The second part describes how XML fits in various business "zones". As I tried to navigate my way through the various zones, I found that there is a lot of "boilerplate material" repeated in more than one zone. Of course, by the end (p228) the author emphasizes on us to "Collapse Duplicate Material". Needless to confess I skipped some chapters.

The third part gets a little more into the actual XML application. While the author does justice to some of the applications, some applications end abruptly. (Being part of javaranch.com...nah!!! and) lacking sufficient knowledge about Microsoft Technologies, I had to skip Chapter 15 and realized later that a lot of the SOAP technology is carried over to Chapter 16. So I wasn't able to follow them completely. I really enjoyed Chapter 18 till the end when the author suddenly realized that XSL-FO should be covered in another book.

Overall, I think Part I does a very good job of introducing the technology. Part II can be skipped, if you agree that XML Centric applications are the future. Part III analyses interesting problems, but is a little in comprehensive. Also, sound knowledge of XML and related technologies seems to be a pre-requisite. Only part III of the book is the relavent.

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Java and XSLT
by Eric M. Burke


O'Reilly
1 edition
September 2001
544 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, December 2001
  (9 of 10)


The combination of Servlets and XSLT is a natural fit and a possible alternative to Servlets and JSP.

This book gives excellent coverage to using XSLT to generate dynamic web pages. The first part of the book is an introduction to XSLT. For those unfamiliar with XSLT, this part of the book will be an excellent introduction. For those using XSLT, an additional tutorial or reference will be required. The next part of the book covers how to use a Java program to transform an XML document into HTML. SAX, DOM, JDOM, and JAXP are all covered. This section includes information on how to configure your environment to correctly process XML documents. Anyone who has run into the mysterious "sealing violation" will appreciate this help. The next part of the book is a series of case studies starting with a discussion forum. The case studies demonstrate solutions to real world programming issues and help to uncover some of the issues that programmers will face if they choose to use these technologies. Performance issues are discussed with each solution.

My one complaint with this book is that the author tends to overstate the advantages of XSLT while understating the advantages of JSP. Overall, the author has done an outstanding job of putting the two technologies (Java and XSLT) together in a way that is easy to understand.

Anyone interested in using XSLT in their Java development efforts should start with this book.

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Java and XML
by Brett McLaughlin, Brett McLaughlin


O'Reilly
second edition
September 2001
550 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, January 2002
  (9 of 10)


The first edition of this book was considered one of the best on the subject of Java and XML. This new edition has expanded to include the developments in Java and XML over the last year. The author gives a little less handholding on the basics of XML reducing a three chapter introduction in the first edition to a one chapter summary. SAX, DOM, and JDOM all are covered in detail with each topic getting an introduction and an advanced chapter. JAXP 1.1 is covered in sufficient detail. After the introduction to the basic Java/XML APIs, the author moves on to some other interesting topics.

The chapters on web publishing frameworks and XML-RPC haven't changed much since the first edition. New chapters on SOAP, Web Services, and content syndication are welcome additions. The book ends with a look at data binding and JAXB.

The examples in the book are extremely clear and concise, explaining each topic well without being overly simplistic. As with the first edition, the author assumes that you are familiar with Java but unlike the first edition he assumes you have a basic understanding of XML.

If you are a Java developer and you are going to be working with XML then this book is required reading. The coverage of the Java/XML APIs is excellent. As for the other topics, it is a good introduction but for anyone working with SOAP or Web Services, other books will be required.

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O'Reilly
1 edition
June 2000
498 pages

Reviewed by Frank Carver, June 2001
  (9 of 10)


The first half of the book covers XML, DTD, Schema, parsing with SAX, DOM and JDOM, transformation, and traversal of XML data, and the second half covers some applications of XML; document and web site styling; remote procedure calls, configurations and a bit about integrating XML with other technologies such as perl. In general this book has good, solid coverage of most of the important aspects of XML and Java. The sensible sections on XML Schema, JDOM and JAXP, elevate it above many others, but you may need a more detailed book if you plan heavy use of DTD. The examples have just enough detail to be usable without swamping the text, which approaches nutshell-like conciseness. The later sections sometimes read a bit like a how-to guide for the authors favourite products from the Apache range - configuration and use of Xerces, Xalan, Cocoon and the non-standard XSP is covered in detail, but other, equivalent products are mostly ignored. XML technology is developing extremely fast, and some aspects of this book are already getting old. A few of the quoted URLs lead nowhere, and mention of newer standards such as the JAXP transformation API, XML data binding and Messaging APIs is a must for the next version. The JDOM examples may also be incorrect soon if the proposed package changes take place. Keep this book on your desk if you are developing XML with Java, and you won't go far wrong.

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C++ XML
by Fabio Arciniegas


Sams
unknown edition
August 2001
336 pages

Reviewed by Madhav Lakkapragada, April 2002
  (6 of 10)


This book assumes knowledge of XML and is for C++ and XML developers. The book covers a lot of different topics but not in great detail. SAX (both 1.0 and 2.0) and DOM 2.0 are discussed to begin with. The author does a good job describing the API for all of these. The examples are simple and demonstrate the usage of the API. A good chapter was the comparision of SAX and DOM.

Other advanced topics that are touched in this books are XML Schema, XPath, XPointers, TREX and XSLT. The book does give an example or two on each of these and mentions where and how to use these technologies. However, they are neither complete nor detailed, as claimed on the back cover. Lets be honest, an eight and half page description on XML Schema is not detailed, atleast not in my opinion.

Its the same with XSLT and SOAP/RPC. One chapter on each that gives you an understanding of how to use this technology in C/C++ and the tools available. Toolkits or frameworks like Xalan, Xerces and MSXML are also mentioned with an example or two. The book also presents a chapter on Database support and its processing using C++ based ODBC tools.

Overall, this book gives a perspective of various XML technologies to a C/C++ developer and provides a CD with all the source code and tools needed. While XML knowledge is needed to use this book, the examples that are mentioned are easy to understand, not too complicated. So, if you are a C/C++ developer and would like to get a peek into the XML world, this book does a fair job. But, is not detailed or complete on any topic.

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XML, XSLT, Java, and JSP: A Case Study in Developing a Web Application
by Westy Rockwell


New Riders
unknown edition
July 2001
768 pages

Reviewed by Thomas Paul, September 2001
  (2 of 10)


There are some books that are published that you wonder why the publisher went through the exercise. New Riders should have rejected this manuscript. It claims to be a case study of XML, XSLT, and JSP but it isn't. It is a confused and confusing discussion of the author playing around with technology.

The author wanted to try out some ideas so he decided to write a chat program. But there is no real design effort (you won't find a single UML diagram anywhere) so it is difficult to understand precisely what the application is supposed to look like. Without any real design, the application ends up with one servlet of over 50 pages and another of over 40 pages in length. (The book is inflated with 300 pages of source listings that are unreadable.) As a case study in how to do bad design and write awful code, the book can serve as a warning perhaps. As far as actually trying to explain any of this technology, the author admits that isn't the purpose of the book. In a case study you like to hear of problems encountered or the different solutions attempted but you won't. No mention is made of security or performance. The code itself is useless and can't be used in other applications because it is so poorly designed. The author admits that huge chunks of code need to be refactored.

Overall this book fails to provide any real value.

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Professional XML Schemas
by Kurt Cagle, Nikola Ozu, Jeni Tennison et all


Wrox
1 edition
July 2001
690 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, September 2001
  (9 of 10)


Probably twice as much about XML Schemas, than you ever hoped to know :)

The first six chapters provide a detailed tutorial. Grumble: rules are stated rather than explained and the questions I had prior to reading are still ... questions. Six more chapters immerse you into schema design issues. They lead through all phases of schema design, from abstract data modeling with UML to specificity of writing schemas for document-centric and data-centric XML instances. In passing you will get a pack of insightful ideas, like how wisdom of venerable relational data model can be applied to schemas... Considering very immature state, schemas design is in, the authors did an amazing job, more than was possible!

Three last assorted chapters are my favorite. "Schema and XSLT" shows how generic XSLT stylesheet can work against a special kind of XML documents - schemas; for example, how to automatically transform schemas into HTML forms for representing XML data instance. "Schematron and Other Schema Technologies" is devoted to alternative Schema languages, most notably Schematron, which provides rich tools for data validation and can greatly liberate your application from a data validation task. The last chapter, "Schema-Based Programming" presents an innovative view of schemas as a base of declarative programming, where schemas carry the description on the whole application, not only its data, but also user interface and even logic/behavior. As a whole, these three chapters prove that schemas only begin to exhibit their potential and this is where your original ideas may flourish.

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Professional XML Meta Data
by David Dodds, Andrew Watt, Mark Birbeck, Jay Cousins, Kal Ahmed, Daniel Rivers-Moore, Joshua Lubell, Miloslav Nic, Danny Ayers, Ann Wrightson


Wrox
1 edition
July 2001
600 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, August 2002
  (8 of 10)


You're gonna love a book that dares to say that surrounding your data with angle brackets wont give them meaning. How to express meaning, so that computers could "understand" it, is what the book is about.

It is intended for a reader who needs to develop navigation/search systems for large volumes of information and accustoms with current state of affair in this field.

Three major projects that underlie "Semantic Web" initiative are described in details:

- RDF, a notation for describing information resources on the web;
- TopicMaps, a notation with similar purpose but different syntax;
- MDL (Meaning Definition Language), the most interesting project, in my opinion. Its mission is described as "to provide the link between structure and meaning". Here body of knowledge is formalized in "Object-Property-Association" terms with attached XPath expressions that locate the source of data in an underlying XML document. If the values are taken from standard vocabulary (trite example - ISO country codes), we are as close to making computers to "understand" data as it is realistically possible today. Practical applications include automatic meaning-preserving translations between XML documents and XSLT stylesheet generation for such transformations.

Other chapters describe various practical tasks, like parsing RDF format with SAX and MDF, and explore experimental ideas - automatic topic maps generation or using Schematron for data mining.

On overall, the book provides a good overview of most important emergent technologies and tools in the field, gives food for thought and inspiration for your own ideas.

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The XML Bible, 2nd Edition
by Elliotte Rusty Harold


Wiley
second edition
June 2001
1206 pages

Reviewed by Madhav Lakkapragada, September 2001
  (7 of 10)


The book covers most of the XML related topics. Detailed analysis of various tags used in XML, XSL etc are covered. I liked the flow of the book. Part I of the book gives you an overview of the XML/XSL technology. Part II and III walk you through some detailed definitions and examples. The examples build on top of the previous chapters. Hence you need to read this book continuosly. Since I am fairly knowledgeable regarding the XML technologies, I was okay skipping some chapters. I didn't have enough time to review part IV, which covers XLinks, Xpointers and RDF.

Finally, I should add that this book places a lot of emphasis on XSL/CSS/XSLT. However, it fails to give a perspective about how XML technology is used in association with Java (or other) applications using SAX/DOM. To that effect this book is catogorized correctly being shelved in Web Development/XML and not XML applications.

The CD has all the resources needed. Besides the PDF version of the whole book, included in the CD are browsers, parsers, most of the XML related Specs, examples among others. Its kind of like all in one when it comes to XML technology.

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Professional Java XML
by Wrox Team


Wrox
1 edition
April 2001
1200 pages

Reviewed by Ajith Kallambella, August 2001
  (10 of 10)


The most comprehensive XML guide I have ever read, the "Professional Java XML" covers the breadth of XML technologies. You've heard it a lot of times by now - the concept of "portable code and portable data" is no longer a hype. While XML itself has undergone many standardizations in the past three years, the possibilities of integrating XML in Java applications has grown leaps and bounds.

This is surely one of the best XML companions available today for Java developers. Beginning with a crisp introduction of XML basics, the book quickly moves into important aspects of XML support in Java such as parsers, DOM, SAX, JAXP, JDOM and XML transformations. The next group of chapters is dedicated to the charter of the book - effectively using XML in various Java application domains. Diverse scenarios are covered from simple things as Object persistence, socket I/O and configuration scripts to sophisticated uses such as XML Databases, Client and Server side HTTP and using XML as a message-ware. The concluding chapters cover a host of new and promising technologies like SOAP, WebServices and XML for communication protocols.

With 22 chapters written by 15 subject experts, Wrox cannot go wrong. Since the book has been very recently published, it covers all the brand new standards and specifications from W3C. The book includes numerous case studies, readily usable real-life examples, tips and tricks (how to JAXP-enable any parser - Chapters 2 and 3 ) and even "under the hood" facts( Architecture of Xalan ).

Talking about the downside, with so many authors (15 of them!) involved in the project, consistency of tone and the level of technical presentation greatly varies from one chapter to another seriously affecting the readability of the book - its like a roller-coaster ride! When I finished reading the book, it felt more like a collection of articles from Dr.Dobbs journal.

Overall it is a great book that can be used both as a tutorial and a desktop reference. It is literally worth its weight in gold!

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Learning XML
by Erik T. Ray


O'Reilly
1 edition
February 2001
350 pages

Reviewed by Matthew Phillips, April 2001
  (5 of 10)


Some people, like me, want details when learning something new. Some don't. If you don't want details, then this book is for you. This book jumps right into XML and its features.

The coverage of the basic concepts and DTDs is excellent, although I had to read the DTD chapter twice to understand it. I liked the coverage of XSLT stylesheets as well. The book would have received an 8 or a 9 based on those. Unfortunately, the coverage of XPointer is more confusing than anything else and XML schema is practically untouched.

If you want to know the basics very quickly, then you may like this book. If you want a thorough understanding of the topic, then you will probably want to look elsewhere.

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Java Developers Guide to E-Commerce with XML and JSP
by Bill Brogden and Chris Minnick


Sybex
unknown edition
January 2001
512 pages

Reviewed by Frank Carver, June 2001
  (8 of 10)


This book is unrelentingly practical. This is both its main advantage and its biggest drawback.
The book describes, in great detail, how to build and set up an XML-driven e-commerce web site using a single case study. Each of the concepts covered (XML, DTD, Catalog, Shopping Cart, Look and Feel, Surveys, Payment Processing, News feeds etc.) gets a few pages of introduction and a chapter of annotated code. The advantage of this approach is that the reader is never left with hanging questions about just how to implement something - every bracket and semicolon is there.
The disadvantage is that hardly any coverage is given to alternative approaches. EJB and XSLT get a few pages, HTML templating gets just one line! The code examples are solid, but seem a little "old fashioned"; there's no use of the Collections API, JDOM or XSLT, for example. Don't let any of this discourage you though - consider these points as options for further study. The code is all on the supplied CD, and you are free to tinker with it.
If you are a programmer and unsure what all the e-commerce handwaving really means, or you need to produce a basic e-commerce system in a hurry, you need this book.

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XSLT Quickly
by Bob DuCharme


Manning Publications
1 edition
January 2001
298 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, July 2001
  (8 of 10)


XML enjoys an increasing popularity and so does XSLT - a high-level language for transforming XML documents, designed to make your work with XML more productive.

This book, as the author put it, provides "task-oriented explanations of how to get work done with XSLT". I would define the audience that will benefit most as intermediate XSLT developers - you are expected to have some knowledge of XML and XSLT. Part 1 has a brief tutorial, but it is not the strongest part of this book. Part 2 is what makes this book worth the read - it delves into most typical tasks, or even classes of tasks, XSLT developers encounter: adding, changing, deleting elements and attributes, sorting, avoiding duplicates and many other. Perhaps, the book was planned as a "cookbook" to quickly look up "how do I...", but it is more than that: the author describes how things work in detail, shows the best way to perform a task, warns about subtle issues you would spend hours fighting with on your own. I found the explanations very useful: even reading about basic concepts can bring discoveries. There are more advanced topics too, like dealing with namespaces or recursive techniques; read about them, and more challenging tasks will not catch you unprepared.

The book doesn't touch on really advanced concepts like the famous Muench's grouping, but this is probably outside of XSLT's everyday repertoire and, therefore, outside of this book's mission.

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XSLT: Working with XML and HTML
by Khun Yee Fung


Addison-Wesley Professional
unknown edition
December 2000
441 pages

Reviewed by Carl Trusiak, February 2001
  (8 of 10)


Khun states, 80% of any task can be completed using 20% of the available tools. This book gives you that and another 10% to develop an XSLT based site. The coverage of using XSLT to render XHTML documents, Text documents, SVG Objects and PDF documents is just enough to leave you wanting more. A complete case study of an existing site makes the examples really come to life. The Appendix "XSLT and XPATH Reference" groups the available functionality in an easy to locate section with examples for each. This in itself makes the book almost invaluable as a daily reference. It will definitely get its dog-ears on my shelf.

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The XML Handbook
by Charles F. Goldfarb, Paul Prescod


Pearson Education
third edition
November 2000
1034 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, April 2001
  (7 of 10)


Conceptually the book is divided into two parts. The first part centers on XML applications and covers different application domains from most hyped like electronic data interchange and application integration to those you could hardly think about. Its 47 chapters were contributed by various authors and companies, describing either a company's experience with XML technologies, or the software it provides. Most chapters take a high-level view of design requirements and considerations and state what technologies or tools were used but do not explain why. No details, code examples are rare exceptions. What the second part has to offer is XML tutorials. 'Plain XML'and DTDs are covered in-depth, providing tips and insights as to why you may need a feature, you might otherwise consider useless. Other technologies (XPath, XSL, XLink/XPointer, Schema) are covered briefly, "focusing on concepts rather than syntax", as the authors state themselves. This book is one of four recommended for IBM-140 exam preparation. However, it was not written for this purpose and as a result, its format is not quickly accessible. Pearls of wisdom are spread around but you have to diligently search for them through all 1000 pages. XML application design considerations, which part one is dedicated to, are somewhat less specific than the exam requires. Tutorials are written from a more practical point of view than those in other books, but are in no way exhaustive. It is not your 'XML certification guide', although could be a good supplement.

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XML Development with Java 2
by Michael C. Daconta, Al Saganich


Sams
unknown edition
October 2000
448 pages

Reviewed by Ajith Kallambella, March 2001
  (7 of 10)


The first five chapters breeze through general XML technology concepts such as parsers, DOM API and XSL/XSLT. Since this is not a book about XML itself, you should not be surprised about the pace. The remaining five chapters talk about the actual mission ie., integrating XML with Java applications. Sections on using XML for bean and EJB persistence, writing Servlets that render XML-based information and XML/JDBC collaboration are noteworthy. The authors go that extra mile and talk about idiosyncrasies of vendor support for XML, especially the subtle differences you have to get used to while using XML parsers from Sun, IBM and Oracle. On the flip side, many crucial topics have been left out and these omissions are starkly visible. There is no mention of concepts such as JDOM, XML RPC, XMLSchema (this disappointed me), XML-based publishing frameworks etc. Lack of emphasis to detail has compromised the quality of the book. The code samples are lengthy and some programs on CD do not even compile clean. Several programs are missing from the CD. I searched on the Sam's web site to see if there is an errata page and again, I was disappointed. Last but not least, there are over a dozen typos which makes you think - did they hurry into publishing this book? You cannot use this book as a workable reference. I would love to see a second edition that has more comprehensive coverage and better quality.

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XML Elements of Style
by Simon St. Laurent


McGraw-Hill
1 edition
December 1999
320 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, May 2001
  (9 of 10)


Although no one can complain of a shortage in books with the 'XML' abbreviation in the title, most of those books simply explain what you can do with XML. The problem with such an approach is that XML's amorphous nature (the Author's own words) allows you to do about everything - the more important it is to distinguish what you can from what you should do - exactly what "XML elements of style" is about. It doesn't teach you how to create XML documents - there are number of books for tha, it teaches you how to create good XML documents, which makes it special. It is not a beginning tutorial, however, and the reader is expected to have some prior basic XML knowledge. The first part thoroughly covers all advanced features of XML: character, general and parameter entities, notations, processing instructions, and in passing demystifies the more arcane aspects of the XML 1.0 specification, such as white space handling. The next part, devoted to XML design, concentrates on good practices when creating XML documents, and carefully warns about the pitfalls you may encounter using, for example, namespaces or non-validating parsers. A good number of pages deal with DTD design issues, showing how to create reusable, manageable, extensible DTDs and how to avoid possible problems. This book was written in 1999 - two centuries ago in XML time, but it mysteriously has kept its value. If there is such thing as classics of XML, then "XML elements of style" is a classic.

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Structuring XML Documents
by David Megginson


Prentice Hall
unknown edition
January 1998
419 pages

Reviewed by Margarita Isayeva, August 2002
  (8 of 10)


This book is about DTD. DTD isn't a new emerging and sexy technology, it's a technology on its decline as we watch it being superseded by XML Schema. So why read the book? I read it out of intellectual curiosity -- DTD is a kind of the "minimalist" game, where limited tools make creativeness a necessity. For more practical benefits, read this book if you need to write DTDs for documents designated for a human reader. If your XML is for computer consumptions, the book will be of less value. The same about those who just need a technical reference - it's not about how to write "correct" DTDs, it's about how to design "good" DTDs. What is considered good, a mental framework with key concepts of flexibility, extensibility, easy of learning/use/processing, is the most valuable part of the book. The author analyzes five industry-strandard DTDs (DocBook and HTML are best known) and illustrates his theses on examples from those time-proven designs. How to translate virtues of "good design" into DTD declarations is explained in a simple manner and "goodness" is tracked down to almost measurable level.

In spite of two major limitations: part of information is unavoidably DTD-specific and all DTDs belong to publishing industry which makes the whole discussion document-oriented, a good deal of insights transcend this specifics and can be applied to Schema or any other notation - a proof that the book itself is well-designed.

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