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by Doug Tidwell
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XML is an elegant and straightforward way to define data-centric documents to feed almost any kind of data processing or rendering system. The linchpin of many XML solutions, however, is XSLT. This standard provides a way to transform your XML documents into other XML formats, HTML, and almost any other format you wish. XSLT is an excellent tutorial on this critical technology, a must-have text for developers getting serious with XML.
This book is targeted at busy developers who want to learn standards-compliant skills with XSLT and learn them fast. The author uses the Apache Xalan XSLT engine for demonstration, but the material in the book is equally applicable to the XSLT engine in Microsoft's MSMXL parser, Saxon, and many other equivalent XSLT processors.
The material is presented logically from the transformation of a simple "Hello World!" XML file to an HTML document onto XPath locations, branching, linking, combining XML documents, and extension functions. After laying the groundwork for what XSLT can do, the author presents a fairly sophisticated case study--an online tutorial generator that generates HTML files, PDF files, and Zip files.
Aside from being a subject tutorial, XSLT is also an excellent reference that comes in handy for daily coding. The appendices cover XSLT, XPath, a function reference, and a frequently asked questions section. These reference sections include complete examples that make each concept quite clear. XSLT provides the horsepower behind XML, and this book provides the perfect vehicle to master transformation techniques. --Stephen W. Plain
Topics covered: Basic style sheet structure, XPath data model, branching and control elements, links and cross-references, sorting and grouping, combining XML documents, XSLT extension functions, case study, XSLT reference, XPath reference, function reference, XSLT guide (FAQ).
XSLT brings it all together. Its concise comprehensive treatment sets it apart from other books on the subject. It covers XSLT and XPath, a critical companion standard, and explores subjects from basic transformations to complex sorting and linking. In addition, the book explores extension functions on a variety of different XSLT processors, and combining multiple documents with XSLT. Examples demonstrate all of the techniques described.
Though XSLT is extremely useful, it's also extremely daunting to the average user. XSLT uses an XML-based template syntax combined with a terse vocabulary, called XPath, which identifies how the template applies to the original document. The understanding of "variables" in XSLT is deeply different from the understanding of "variables" in procedural languages, for instance. Getting started with XSLT is difficult, and advanced techniques require a through understanding of how XSLT templates work and interact with each other. Doug Tidwell, a developer with years of XSLT experience, explains XSLT by building from the basics to the more complex but powerful possibilities of XSLT. Readers just getting started and readers looking for advanced techniques will both find all the information they need.
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