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Learning XML 2nd Edition Erik T Ray
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
ISBN:0-596-00420-6
400 pages
£ 28.50
Published: 3rd October 2003
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the December 2003 issue (pdf), (html)
bookcover  

I thought that I had reviewed the first edition of this book, but I can't actually find it on my disc - some other O'Reilly XML books, but not this one. That's one of the troubles with XML: it all starts to blur into a mass of <, > and monospaced type (LucasFont's TheSans Mono Condensed, if you really want to know), especially when they start throwing in namespace references. As I've said before (probably several times) I think XML is OK and that it can be quite useful, and even if it wasn't, you still have to know something about it just so that you can understand what the early adopting, bandwagon jumpers are talking about. This book is not a bad place to start. Good coverage of the basics, through schemata (new material here) ([sigh] another author who doesn't know the correct plural) all the way up to XSL-FO. Tons of examples, lots of explanation - I think that I have a clue about how to use FO now!

Of course, there is a lot of material that is covered in literally dozens of other books that you have on your shelf (for instance CSS) but we've come to expect that. Ultimately there isn't a lot to say about the useful bits of XML, and the rest is so roccoco that only people who need it will go there.

I lend this book's predecessor to students who want to learn XML and they find it useful. I don't think that you can say much better than that about a textbook, and since this is release 2 it's bound to be better!

BTW my favourite section heading in the book is ``Dubious vendor extensions'' -- how do you parse that?

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