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Using XML: Special Edition (with CD-ROM) by…
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Using XML: Special Edition (with CD-ROM)

by Lee Anne Phillips

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0789719967, Paperback)

Using XML, Special Edition, is a wonderful reference for those who know what the heck they're doing with XML, but a very confusing primer for those who don't. To be fair, the Using series was never meant to teach someone; it was meant to crouch purposefully on your bookshelf, waiting patiently for that moment when you look vaguely confused--at which point it leaps off the shelf into your arms, dispenses the answer that you're looking for, and then slinks back into hiding.

In that sense, Using XML serves quite well. But if you're looking for a tutorial, this book will simply look up at you with a kind of confused "Pikachu"-style expression and wonder what you're looking for specifically.

If you don't know what to tell it, you're in trouble.

The book delves into the programming realm--where its strength lies, incidentally--after a couple of obligatory "Intro to XML" chapters. Because XML, being a comparatively simple language, is more frequently about understanding when or why to use a particular feature than how, there is comparatively little code (though there's certainly enough of it to go around). Instead, most of the text explains concepts and gives examples of when it is and isn't appropriate to use certain features, what certain features are intended to be used, and so on, which is very helpful. After all, in many cases the reader will be using the book to try to find solutions and not simply answers. The writing is clear and concise--well, as clear and concise as you can be when venturing into the oft-nebulous areas of XML--when describing code functions and real-life examples, but, as stated, this book is fairly weak on XML concepts. If you didn't understand the concept going in, you're not likely to be much wiser on the other side of the chapter.

There is code galore, however, and much of it is notated, as it should be. As would be expected in a reference book, there are pages and pages and pages of tables with classes and features and commands aplenty. Unfortunately, there are several code samples from real-world Web sites or actual working models. This is "unfortunate" mainly because the samples point to the lack of usable examples in the book. A lot of XML's advanced functions would be made a lot clearer if the book would not only give isolated code fragments for many XML features, but also a wider-scale XML page that would let the reader understand how it's used in the field.

This is by no means a tutorial, and if you're fuzzy on critical XML philosophies, you may want another book. But if you're an XML developer working on a project who needs something to pull off the shelf from time to time, this is fine. --William Steinmetz

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:10 -0400)

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