New Era Developer
Get a jump-start on B2B data transfer with this definitive
- By Paul G. Brown
Professional ASP XML from Wrox Press Ltd. is designed
for experienced developers wanting a quick start in the
world of Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Active Server
XML is considered the new mechanism for the transfer
of data between heterogeneous systems. Simply put, it's
how my business can exchange data with your business without
having to develop a joint system. ASP is the Microsoft
way of developing scripting web pages for data processing
The layout is different than what you would find in a
normal tech book but it works very well. There are 15
chapters that form the basis of the learning portion of
the book. In here you'll find out how to use Cascading
Style Sheets, the Document Object Model, Scripting and
working with data. Each chapter is a solid tutorial that
moves quickly, yet thoroughly, through the topic. References
to other chapters help keep the focus on the topic at
hand, which makes for some easier reading. The code samples
in each chapter are not the simple "Hello World" but are
practical examples that demonstrate the point.
The first five chapters lay the foundation by covering
XML, DTDs, Schemas and the DOM. We're not really connecting
things yet, just simply sizing up the parts. Chapters
6, 7, 8 and 9 move into ASP, CSS and XSL where things
start to come together. All of this is capped by Chapter
10, the first Case Study, where we see things in a more
complete example. If the reader were to quit at this point,
the reader could reasonably go back and develop web applications.
But we're not done yet.
Almost any application is going to need to process data
and XML is a medium for data transfer not storage. Chapters
11 through 13 provide the information walk through ADO
and data binding so we can keep building more sophisticated
applications. Chapter 14 deals with procedure libraries
so that we don't have to reinvent the wheel for each page.
We get a peek into the future with Chapter 15 where we
look at emerging standards.
We're at the point where a lot of books would quit because
they've given the reader all of the required information.
However, this book understands that there is a difference
between the theoretical world and the real world. We're
only about half way through our journey and have seen
some solid, but not really in-depth, examples. That is
about to change.
Real World XML
The Case Studies section is six examples of "real world"
applications that someone might wish to write. You'll
find examples of a survey tool, shopping cart, on-line
documentation system and workflow application. Each study
provides a concise yet detailed analysis of the problem,
semi-detailed design and listing of tools used. Basically,
an abbreviated form of everything needed for a good system
design. We examine the code for each of the projects so
that we can see out the pieces fit together. You'll learn
as much from the case studies as you will from the first
The last case study is an example of distributed transactions
and looks at Transaction Internet Protocol (TIP). Anyone
thinking of transactional database development should
look at this study. You may never use the technologies
directly but its presentation of the design considerations
makes it a must read.
We're still not done yet. The appendices of this book
are a fully loaded, quick reference. Need to look at the
XML 1.0 specification? Go to Appendix A. Need the Microsoft
flavor? Look at B. Next you'll have the IE5 XSL reference,
Style Sheet properties, SAX and a whole lot more. You
may not read every but page but at least flip through
so you'll know what's there.
Hefty, Hefty, Hefty
This is a solid book that will be a valuable tool on any
developer's shelf. Looking at the back cover you'll see
that it's positioned as an intermediate step with Beginning
ASP and Beginning XML as prerequisites. There is such
a solid foundation that an experienced developer can skip
these other tomes. Be sure you're familiar with web technologies
and page design so you'll be able to maximize your benefits.
Oh, and make sure you've got a strong arm for holding
Paul G. Brown, MCSD, a developer, speaker, and a frequent contributor to MCPmag.com, lives in New Berlin, Illinois. When not in front of the computer, he can be found chasing Jerry, Wesley, Jordan and Dillon for Mom.