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XML Family of Specifications: A Practical Guide
by Kenneth B. Sall


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Editorial Reviews
From Book News, Inc.
This reference provides a framework for understanding how XML, XSL, XML Schema, and related specifications weave together to create applications. Individual chapters review the simple API for XML (SAX), the document object model (DOM), the Java API for XML processing (JAXP), cascading style sheets (CSS), XSL formatting objects (XSLFO), XLink, XPointer, and the resource description framework (RDF). The CD-ROM contains evaluation versions of several XML tools and W3C specifications in PDF format.Copyright © 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Book Info
Provides a complete roadmap for understanding how XML, XSL, XML Schema, and related specifications interlink to create powerful, real-world applications. Both a reference and tutorial, this practical guide begins with a detailed timeline that charts the history of the Internet, the Web, and XML. Softcover. CD-ROM included.

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Product Details
  • Paperback: 1168 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; Bk&CD-Rom edition (May 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 0201703599
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds. (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: based on 8 reviews.
  • Amazon.com Sales Rank: #185,084 in Books
  • (Publishers and authors: improve your sales)

Look Inside This Book
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful:

Thorough reference for developers and architects, June 23, 2002
Reviewer:Mike Tarrani "www.tarrani.com" (Deltona, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   (REAL NAME)   (COMMUNITY FORUM 04)  
This book is a comprehensive and up-to-date (as of this review) reference on XML as defined by the W3C. Part I is more of a desk reference (with a lot of example code), which covers XML syntax, modeling and parsing, DTDs and schemas. Part II, also with many examples, is a complete treatment of parsing with APIs, with separate chapters on SAX, DOM, JDOM and JAXP. Transformation and display protocols are covered in Part III, including CSS2, XSLT and XPath. XSLFO for formatting is also covered in this part. Xlink and Xpointer to facilitate referencing operations are the subjects of Part IV, and the book wraps up the formal descriptions of the family of specifications in Part V, which covers XHTML and RDF. I have a personal interest in RDF, and found the chapter devoted to it complete, but terse. This characterizes all of the chapters in this book. What makes this book valuable is the way the information is displayed. Each chapter starts with either an overview or concepts, and each clearly explains each specification and gives clear examples to demonstrate how they work in practice.

Appendices at the back of the book are especially valuable because they summarize much of the information in the body of the book. For example, Appendix A depicts the family of specifications in a format that clearly shows the relationships among them. In addition, the web site that supports the book provides a lot of supplementary material, including over 900 links to related resources and an image map of the family of specifications that is one of the most visually appealing and informative resources one can have at their disposal. Note that the web site is not up-to-date - some information that was cited as coming in April and May were still not online as of late June.

This is not a book for learning XML as much as it's a reference. The main value over W3C material that is available over the web is the clear writing and many examples. It reads much better than dry specs and is complete in its coverage.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Rather practical!, July 4, 2004
Reviewer:ART SEDIGHI (Old Bethpage, NY United States) - See all my reviews
Where to start? With the concise history of where XML came from and why each design decision was made and how the evolution of specifications took place over the years, or the thorough explanation of all the XML specifications, or the programming and parsing aspects of XML and metadata, or the cool XML timeline poster towards the end of the book? This book has much to offer any person interested in finding out what XML is and why and how it has changed our world.

Kenneth B. Sall, the author of this book, organized this book in a fashion where each section could be studied on its own, and if there are references to the previous sections, they are appropriately mentioned. This way, one does not need to sit down and cover this 1000+ page book cover to cover to realize that the topic of conversation is. The stage is set at the beginning by the author commenting on the fact that XML can describe everything under the sun, even the kitchen sink:

"XML: ... maybe it's everything but the kitchen sink? Say, have you heard the one about the XML Kitchen Sink Language? ..."

I have been working with XML for sometime now, and I am still amazed at how it has grown and expanded in to our everyday lives in the past few years. One can spend months coming up to speed with the specifications and the XML "realm", and that's not enough. This book does not even cover, in a great detail at least, the Web services realm. That alone is a couple of thousand page book. The background topics are essential to any reader: basic XML syntax, DTD, Canonical XML, Namespaces and XML Schema. Once you have these topics covered and well understood, you can jump around to any other part of the book, displaying XML data for example or XML programming API's.

One can spend a couple of hours trying to figure out how these specifications fit in, but the author hs already done the job with a very useful picture inside the cover page. What's your forte? Cascading Style Sheets to convert XML data into a PDF document for example, or an XHTML document to display on a web site? XHTML is also covered in length, if you do not know that is and what it offers over the plain old HTML.
My favorite topics were probably the authors explanation of the XML parsing and the available API's and resources. SAX, DOM, JAXP and JDOM are covered in great detail.
* SAX - the API that started it all. Minimal and light-weight. Fast and event driven.
* DOM - Memory intensive, complex, but very powerful. It's a tree based model, and the tree represents the whole document.
* JDOM - java specific. Can be used with either DOM or SAX.
* JAXP - java specific again, but easier to use than JDOM.
There are also a number of C++ XML parsers that the author touches on such as the Apache Xerces, C++ SAX and many others, but the main topics revolve around the four most popular parsers mentioned. These sections are mostly tutorials and how-to's. Each parser is used in an example and example is analyzed piece by piece. DOM is covered in more detail due to the number of levels (DOM level 1-3) that it has. Since DOM is more powerful and more complicated, the topic is a bit more advanced and would require more attention from a novice. If you read thru the SAX chapter and understand it well, DOM would not be that much of hurtle, but make sure that you read understand SAX first. Java centric API's including XML-RPC, JAXB, JDOM, JAXM are covered by the author to depict how XML can be used and how it would benefit the application - and developers in-turn. The icing on the cake is when K. B. Sall outlines the differences between SAX, DOM, JDOM and JSAX. He talks about each of the technologies in detail, tell you what the advantage and disadvantage of each one is, and then it compares them against each other. By the time you are done reading these sections, you would become an expert in XML parsing and programming.

XLink and XPointer. How can one leave without these two core technologies and tools? They are truly remarkable; easy to use, light weight and easy to learn. Well, they are well covered - as you would expect from this book. One thing about these topics is that they could be very abstract and need examples, and we got lots of those. The example depict the efficacy of how one can use XLink to create complex connections between sets of resources, even though you do not have a write access to those resources. This is very handy and resourceful technique is you need to build an e-commerce site. With XPointer, one can locate individual XML elements, set of elements or even a range of XML data between two points. The ability to specify "range" of elements is where the true power of XPointer is revealed.

The references, the related resources for each topic, simple to complicated examples and a CD filled with goodies, source code used throughout the book and the W3C specifications at your fingertips outline the some of the other benefits of Kenneth B. Sall's "XML Family of Specifications" book.

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Customer Reviews
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Thorough in its explanations, lots of additional references, April 6, 2004
Reviewer: A reader
This is an excellent book to understand, develop and code XML. However, in the parsing discussions (chp 7-10) an understanding of OOP and Java programming are almost required. Other than that, it is an excellent text.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

great book. Must have for CS students., September 21, 2003
Reviewer: A reader
This book is not an "how to" guide, nor does it claim to be one. I mean by this that if you are, say a Java programmer looking for a book that concretely shows you how to integrate xml with Java then you would be better off with one of the so many Java/XML books on the market.

However, if in your work or your studies you feel that you need to gain a more thorough understanding of the W3C specifications related to XML, then this is the book to buy.

All the W3C specs are available for free on the web. The trouble is, W3C documents are designed to provide a precise definition of a standards, they are not designed to be especially intelligible by mere mortals (however technologically enclined). Some are quite readable, others far less.

Firstly, I really like that this book present all the relevant specifications and working drafts in perspective. Secondly, I found that it does a remarkably good job at translating these specifications (without simplifying them) in understandable terms.

In my work, I am interested in gaining as thorough as possible a view of XMl technologies and this book helps me greatly. I also like the fact that it present a well-organized bibliography at the end of each chapter (sadly many computer books from Wrox, O'reilly, Que an like don't have a bibiography as if to say "everything inside this book comes straight from the author's mind. DO not look any further).

I have reviewed for myself around twenty XML books. I found this book to be one of my top favorite. I recommend it especially for:
- CS students or programmer with a theoretical bent.
- anybody who wants to get a thorough overview of W3C standards.

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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

best on the market, November 23, 2002
Reviewer: A reader
This is the most thorough, comprehensive, and comprehensible book on the market to cover the full range of latest XML technologies. I think it is great!

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful:

This book is worth your attention, October 18, 2002
Reviewer:W Boudville (US) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   (REAL NAME)  
An excellent and comprehensive description of XML. Very up to date. The author gives a clear summary of the history of XML and where the various portions stand. He is to be commended for having a colour diagram on the inside cover, summarising the many specifications that are part of XML or associated with it, like XPath, XLink, JDOM, JAXP, DOM. Affiliated with this is a large pull out colour chart, that gives the time line and status of the components. The book is near exhaustive in its description of these components. You would do well to constantly refer to these two diagrams.

Pin the chart above your computer!

This may sound trivial to some. But when you are digging your way through a detailed set of examples in the book, it really helps to have a schematic overview to place things in perspective. All the more so if you happen to be new to many of the topics. Even experienced users can benefit.

The book has a CD with full listings of the examples. A great time saver. Also, since the author did not provide problem sets, you can easily make up your own, based on the CD. For example, suppose you are looking at Chapter 8, "Parsing with the DOM". Take an example document and its DTD from the CD. Change the DTD to add more elements and attributes. Make some of these mandatory. Run the parser on the document and the DTD. You should get errors, as expected, because the document is missing some new required items. Understand the error messages. Then correct the document by adding instances of those items. Rerun the parser. Any errors? If not, then try adding more to the DTD and document. This will really help you learn. You can quickly build up documents of some nontrivial complexity.

Of course, you can, and should, do analogous things with the other chapters.

In terms of the reader's background (I'm talking to you): You can come from either a formal programming environment, or from a publishing/designer background. In both cases, you should already be well familiar with HTML. This is not a formal prerequisite, but a lot of things in the book really do come easier if you know HTML. The programming examples in the book are usually in java, but the author emphasises that XML is not a procedural programming language like java. Rather, it is a declarative language, where you make templates. In this sense, XML is closer to HTML than to java or C.

This book is worth your attention.

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