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XML Hacks Michael Fitzgerald
Published by O'Reilly Media
ISBN:0-596-00711-6
479 pages
£ 17.50
Published: 6th August 2004
reviewed by Sam Smith
   in the September 2004 issue (pdf), (html)
bookcover  

The latest in the series of ``Hacks'' series is XML Hacks. In terms of form and style, it is very similar to any of the other books; 100 tasks and good ways of solving them. It's unlikely that everyone will use all of the Hacks, but, if you use XML regularly, it is probably worth a look for something new and useful.

The book is very Java based, with many Java examples. This makes the book very cross-platform (a significant number of the examples show Windows screenshots). It does however mean that the XML tools which are predominantly UNIX based get less of a consideration than they could have. There is less coverage of Perl or Python directly than I would have expected, but the methods and ideas described are relatively portable.

This also runs through the book, in that it doesn't feel very ``UNIXy''. I felt that the methods were significantly more closed in terms of extensibility, compared with the Google or Spidering books.

One of the benefits of the Windows content is that there is good coverage of XML and the Microsoft Office tools, and getting content from there to interoperate. Similar hacks are provided for OpenOffice, those being a lot simpler to do. One quibble I have, is out of the graphical XML editors it discusses, only one is available on non-OSX Unix, and then only for a fee. Whether this is a lack of a decent free XML editor (Vim/Emacs et al don't count), I'm not sure.

As with all the Hacks series, these are books you will generally have as a reference after quickly skimming once for background inspiration. The main use being to dip in to the Contents and finding a cute way of doing something specific when you have a problem you need to solve.

The book is good, and worthwhile for those who deal with XML; but I'd recommend having a quick skim read of the contents first: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/xmlhks/toc.html

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