Order Essential XML Quick Reference

Item Description: XML handbook with minimal langauge dependancy

Review Synopsis: Excellent reference for most current XML technology

Full title: Essential XML Quick Reference: A Programmer's Reference to XML, XPath, XSLT, XML Schema, SOAP and More
Authors: Aaron Skonnard and Martin Gudgin
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Year of Publication: 2002
402 pages, Table of Contents, Index

I was pointed to this book when asking some questions on XML (with or without Perl emphasis), and have been using it for a while for some basic XML programming. The book is mostly aimed as a reference and not as a learning tool. There are a few examples when necessary to demonstrate the XML technology (such as the commonplace XPath heirarchy description). There are also some code snippets in Java and VBasic to demonstrate how to implement some of the XML interactions (like SAX, for example). However, most of the rest of the book is a quick handbook for XML technology and otherwise remains language neutral, which it does very well.

Typcially, each chapter covers a specific XML technology (see below); within the chapter, terms and functions are grouped into appropriate catagories, and each keyword or function gets it's own subsection in alphabetical order. Within the subsections, the usages, definition, and examples are given for the term in question. I found that most of these that I've used are good, though a few I'd like to have seen a bit more description. At the end of each chapter, URLs to references and other documentation (typically though W3C) are given.

The book uses page edge tabs to allow one to quickly open the book to the right section. The Table of Contents is sufficiently detailed to allow you to locate a keyword in a given section, and the 17pg index allows you to find any term as needed. The text is a good size, and differences between code, examples, text, and the like is very easy to see. The book itself is small (about 5" x 8", ~1" thick) to be easily carried around.

As previously mentioned, the examples are mainly aimed at Java and VB programmers. While all these technologies have been developed in perl, the perl programmer should be forewarned that the mapping of functions from Java or VB is not always equivalent and should use the appropriate module documentation to figure out the right functions. However, this is only a fraction of the available XML technologies.

As with most standards, XML is still a moving target, but this book does a good job to capture the most recent versions and technologies with XML. If you're doing any sort of XML work, you probably want to grab this book in case you don't have the ability to look up online references. As a perl programmer using XML, you'll find this book helpful for most technologies, though I expect that in a short while, there will be an ORA book that will provide a more perl-centric view of XML.

Overall the book's well above average compared to most computer books I've browsed through, and as a reference to XML technologies, it does it's job well. Perl programmers may find they don't get anything new out of the book that they could get through module documentation and other online docs; however, there are some times that you need a quick paper reference and instead of flipping through printing copies of the W3C standard, this would be much easier to work with. So, if you do any sort of programming with XML but can live with on-line docs, you probably don't need this, but if you're the sort like me that like a printed copy, this book should definitely go on your list.

Table of Contents

  1. XML and Namespaces
  2. Document Type Definitions
  3. XPath 1.0
  4. XPointer, XInclude, and XML Base
  5. XSL Transformations 1.0
  6. SAX 2.0
  7. DOM Level 2
  8. XML Schema Datatypes
  9. XML Schema Structures
  10. SOAP 1.1

update added recommend para before TOC