I think you're right: you can't pick up XML (or most other technical
subjects, if any) just from mailing lists or newsgroups; best to use them
to supplement what you can learn elsewhere, especially when you get to the
point where you have specific questions.
The XML-L archives are at:
>I would like the book(s) to cover:
>1) an overview of XML, its origins
>2) the tools I need to try this new language(?)
>3) code samples so I can understand how it works
>4) whatever other information would be useful...
I generally recommend three books for newbies:
(1) Simon St. Laurent's XML: A Primer. This was a revelation to me when it
first came out, demonstrating that XML didn't have to be described in
formidable geek-speak language. (If I'm not mistaken, Simon's done a 2nd
edition -- may not be in print yet -- which addresses developments in the
standard(s) and tools since Jan. 1998, when the first edition came out.)
(2) Elliotte Rusty Harold's XML: Extensible Markup Language. While not as
informal as XML: A Primer, it's written in clear prose, and covers a wide
range of XML-related topics. It's been a consistent XML best-seller on
Amazon since its release for a reason.
(3) My own Just XML. This is probably the least formal of the three, and
assumes that you're coming to XML with zero knowledge of SGML or even HTML.
This, and my tendency to throw in jokes and bizarre metaphors to describe
fairly simple subjects like the differences among SGML, HTML, and XML,
drives some people crazy -- especially when what they're really looking for
is a straightforward "insert Tab A into Slot B" approach without worrying
about *why* Tab A goes into Slot B. It also apparently appeals to many
others. Forewarned is forearmed. (You can also check my website,
http://www.flixml.org, which includes a fairly well-received tutorial on
"building an XML document.")
All three books cover your topics 1 through 4.
Be aware, though, that XML is something of a moving target. The basic spec
is more or less fixed in stone, as are some on relatively minor side
issues. Other major pieces of the puzzle (XSL, XLink, et al.) are still in
more or less tentative form. The upshot of this is that while any general
XML book published in the last 18 months or so will probably cover XML
itself more or less completely, there will be gaps and speculative passages
covering (or failing to cover :) all the rest.
Ditto coverage of the tools, your point #2; the more current the book, the
more likely its coverage of software will be complete.
John E. Simpson
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Just XML - Now available from Prentice-Hall