XML in a Nutshell

comprehensive manual on extensible markup language

Manual by:
Elliotte Rusty Harold

Reviewed by:
On 26 June 2009
Last modified:12 January 2016


XML coding explained

This is probably most suitable for people who already have a basic grounding in HTML coding and web design basics, but who want to pass beyond these limitations into a markup language which will make their documents more portable and adaptable. XML in a Nutshell is a very thorough explanation of what’s required in extensible markup language. XML itself is a set of codes which allows users to define the structure of their own documents.

XML in a NutshellThese might be any tags – from <sub-title> to <footnote> or from <price> to <ISBN>. These tags mean that data can be displayed in whatever way you choose. For instance, once tagged, a collection of books could be displayed in order of author, title, or publication date – with only one command.

This technology is thick with new jargon (not all of which is explained) and it’s not an easy reading style:

This dichotomy between elements that contain only element data and elements that contain only child elements (and possibly a little whitespace) is common in data-oriented documents.

Nevertheless, there is the usual thoroughness one associates with O’Reilly publications. The coverage is totally comprehensive, and all the data is displayed in an attractive and consistent format. One interesting topic they explain is the issue of character sets – that is, the alphabetic groups of different languages. There are full lists, showing the XML, hexadecimal, and the decimal manner of representing languages from Latin and Greek to Welsh, Hebrew, Coptic, and Arabic.

It contains all the elements of the XML standard. Serious web developers will find topics ranging from the most basic syntax rules, to the details of document type definition (DTD) creation. For more advanced users, they also include details of Extensible Stylesheet Transformation (XSLT) and the document object model (DOM).

© Roy Johnson 2002

Elliotte Rusty Harold & W. Scott Means, XML in a Nutshell, 3rd edition, Sebastopol CA, O’Reilly, 2002, pp.480, ISBN 0596002920

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