Monday, October 31, 2005


XML Books

A surprise package came in the mail for me today - some books that I ordered from BargainBookCo all arrived in great condition two weeks earlier than expected. The books were:

I would have been happy with just Definitive XML Schema, but it was cheaper to buy all three books from America, and pay shipping to Oz, than it was to buy the single work locally... Well, I'm delighted!

I've been lagging behind on XML technologies, and have thought for far too long that XML is just a tree-structured data - that's a bit like saying that Java is just a programming language. I've come to appreciate that XML refers to a larger basket of technolgies, including XML-namespaces, XPath, XQuery, XSLT, XML-Schema, and XHTML (is this a reasonable list of core XML technologies?). Whilst I'm an XML-newbie, I believe that this group of technologies is really more powerful at describing data than traditional IDL's as used by Sun-RPC (based on XDR - I just had to slip a 3-letter-X-acronym in there!), Corba, or COM. The trigger for changing the way that I viewed XML was the realisation that there was more to XML than just arbitrarily defined tags that get sloppily defined and slapped onto a chunk of data. Whilst you can use XML that way, it is also possible to have rigorous definitions of the data - just as you get with IDL's. XML need not lack rigour, but if you choose to, you can have less rigour and rapid prototyping of the data structures. Best of all, rather than having to hand code custom parsers or interpreters, there is an extensive toolkit of existing software that can perform validation, parsing, and transformation of the data. It all sounds too good to be true - but I'm sure that if I join the XML 'dark side' there'll be no return - and hopefully I'll be more productive.

I've been talking XML-pidgin for far too long - it's time to become fluent.

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