Wise Women List Archive File
XML Tutorials and Info
Does anyone have any good links where I could get a quick grasp of
XML? I have a client who wants a site built in XML and I don't really
"get" the difference between HTML and XML.
I bought the XML O'Reilly book ... but I'm lost.
There's a bunch of xml stuff out there. One that starts right off with
'Intro to XML, what is XML and how does it differ from HTML?' is
Haven't been through in depth so can't personally comment but it looks
good on the surface.
Thanks! I've gone through the first chapters, up until the Advanced
section. I get it! It actually makes sense to me, as far as how to write
XML. What I don't get is where XML would be used.
I'll never forget when I went to computer school for a 9 week course back
in the 80's. I understood how to do everything they told me there, but I
couldn't figure out how what I was doing applied to what I would do being
an employee of a company and using a computer for them. Sort of kin to
taking a picture with a digital camera and then saying "Okay, I took a
picture! Now what do I do with it?"
So..I understand how to write something in XML, but what do I do with it?
That is exactly the same question I have about XML. It seems like every
time I start to study it, I get through many chapters on what is
"Well-formed" but no clue as to why I would really want to know that.
LOL. I like that question..."Why WOULD I want to know that?" LOL
Here's what I think (excuse the naivety/stupidness):
I think XML is for office-type applications. It's a computer language a
document can be written in, so that businesses can email these docs to
whomever they need to. The sender doesn't have to worry about what format
the recipient can read...cuz everyone, no matter what OS or software they
use, will be able to read it.
As far as us web designers go, I don't think we need to know that for
designs or graphics, but we need to know it in case we have files posted
for others to read, so they can download them and it'd be the correct
format. Plus, I think you can insert the text portion of your website in
XML...but I'm not sure why or how it'd be used there.
Or maybe not. ;-)
boy, do I have the same questions - my tentative conclusion
is that it is more than I need to know. Just struggled with
an xml class, again, through SmartPlanet and got a little
further but I still just "don't understand" what it is or
how I would use it.
during the class, did find this article,
and it helped me understand it, somewhat, a little bit more (at least how it
could be used).
got far enough into the class, this time, to discover how
complicated it is .... I think, maybe, the kind of work I
do I really don't need to know it - or, maybe, rather, there
are more important things for me to learn.
really glad to see this thread here though and more
confessions of ignorance! :-)
> As far as us web designers go, I don't think we need to know that for
> designs or graphics, but we need to know it in case we have files posted
> for others to read, so they can download them and it'd be the correct
> format. Plus, I think you can insert the text portion of your website in
> XML...but I'm not sure why or how it'd be used there.
> Or maybe not. ;-)
Not exactly ;-)
The purpose of XML is to make databases of information more portable. With
XML, information from different databases, say a publisher and a bookstore,
can be shared. Say the publisher uses an IBM mainframe to house their
database while the bookstore uses SQL Server. Chances are the publisher and
the bookstore have used slightly different field names, and the technologies
can't directly communicate with each other. If there was an
industry-standard schema for describing books (which there probably is by
now), then an XML document could be an intermediary between the two
incompatible databases, reading from one and writing to the other. This
would eliminate the need to export data from one database and import it into
The XML document could also be used to present information from the
databases to a browser, using stylesheets to specify how the information
should appear - for example, different branches of the bookstore in
different parts of the country could use different stylesheets to match
their different Web sites (<book-title> looks like this and <author> looks
like that, etc.). So the master database is in the IBM mainframe, the
corporate office of the bookstore taps into it to retrieve information about
books it has bought from that publisher, and the bookstore branches present
that information in a way that goes with their Web sites. Because there is a
publishing industry standard schema, the bookstores can use the same
stylesheets on database information from all publishers they purchase books
What would I need to write xml? Do I need to buy new software or anything?
You can use any text editor, or make sure to save as text.
There's a beta version of an XML editor available from the company that
taught the XML workshop I took at Web2000DC: http://www.architag.com/xray/
I see there being 2 driving goals behind XML development.
1. Sharing of information. It provides a seamless way to make content
transferrable to people regardless of platform and desired use.
2. Separation of content and style. This is something you are hearing more
and more about with the Standards movement. Stylesheets seems to be the
first step, to pulling the "appearance" elements out for simpler site
management and easier changes to the design. The next big step seems to be
pulling the content out with XML. The resulting page is really a framework
that integrates the stylesheet and the content stored in XML data. The
advantage is to be able to drasticaly reformat the content based on who your
Imagine creating a site where you can service Palm Pilot users, mobile phone
users, computer users etc...all by serving different stylesheets. Your
basic content pages never need to be altered to accomodate them.
Also imagine being able to give a self updating client access to their
content to update to their hearts desire, yet they never have the ability to
get into the stylesheet or the basic framework of the site to mess things
These things can both be done now, but in ways that are no where near as
elegant as xml is leading us towards.
I think it is definitely worth learning this stuff.
That is helping to put things in perspective. I think what I need to do
now - given a little time - is to try a little project to really see how
this works. I do use databases and style sheets now. I know once you
start working that way, you never look back, because it's so much more
efficient for handling so many of the tasks we do than static pages are.
The part to the puzzle I need now is to figure out how and why the XML
is better at doing this than the databases are. I guess I'll have to
roll up my sleeves and get into it - and then it will probably clear up.
It does appear that the browser itself (if it's XML capable) can do more
to manipulate the XML data than the data served by the normal database
application. In the latter, all of the manipulation is done on the
server, and the client receives a static page. In XML, do the style
sheets control the "fields" that are displayed for the different
devices, as well as the text formatting, etc.? It seems to me that you
might choose to display fewer "fields" for the cell phones and PDA's
than you would for a normal Web browser.
:: The part to the puzzle I need now is to figure out how and why the XML
:: is better at doing this than the databases are. I guess I'll have to
Might not necessarily be "better" for a specific database app that you have
in mind. Just different. The advantage comes in when you might want to use
the stored data for more than just database work. Say you are a large
company and you want to put a master contact list out there for all of your
different regional offices to use.
- A receptionist might want to pull that data into a publishing program to
format a nice contact list for the boss
- A sales person might want to bring that data into their palm pilot's
- A regional office might want to pull that data into their local Microsoft
exchange server to make a master address book that all of the Outlook users
in the office can access
with xml data all of that stuff would be possible with the same file. It
might not be so portable if the data were only available in SQL server for
:: devices, as well as the text formatting, etc.? It seems to me that you
:: might choose to display fewer "fields" for the cell phones and PDA's
:: than you would for a normal Web browser.
That's where the css comes in. css has a "display" property that can be set
to "none" That would essentially make the field disappear. You could use
that property in your PDA stylesheet for the fields that those browsers
don't need to see.