Thursday, November 17, 2005
Back to ACK
It's been a while since the XML books arrived. I've had a quick read of XML Handbook and Definitive XSLT and XPath. The XML Handbook provides a buzzword compliant overview of the XML technologies and has definitely been written with marketing as a priority over substance. Fortunately the XML Core Tutorials (part 15) does provide a very solid technical overview of the different XML technologies and I've learnt a lot from it. There is quite a lot of material covered in the (almost) 300 pages of the tutorials and it is well written - this all makes the book worthwhile.
I've been referencing Definitive XSLT and XPath extensively in the last couple of days now that I'm writing XSLT 'in anger' (and have to get it to work!), but am finding the work to be of less value than I anticipated. The (few) cross-references in the book are useless as they reference sections in the book rather than individual pages. Since each section can be quite long I'm finding that getting information out of the book is rather time-consuming. The book would really profit from having good summaries of the material, but it appears that no effort has been made in providing this. In constrast, the material at w3schools is excellent and I've started referencing their XSLT element reference in preference to Definitive XSLT and XPath.
The Gnome XSLT library is excellent, as is the xsltproc command line tool.
The Definitive XML Schema has not been opened - it would be nice to say that I'm savouring the opportunity to learn more about XSchema, but the limitations of ZSI would make this an academic exercise. My major gripe with ZSI is that it attempts to do too much, and does much of it badly - whilst it's possible to define recursive structures (e.g. trees) with XSchema, ZSI cannot handle this. The restriction to hierarchical data types is just too limiting.
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