.NET and XML
Nearly every ASP.NET developer has had some exposure to Microsoft's implementation of XML libraries, from using the XML code-generating wizards in Visual Studio .NET, to reading and writing XML files using the XmlReader and/or XmlWriter base classes and their respective subclasses. Although a rudimentary understanding of these classes is adequate for most simple XML .NET projects, serious applications require serious knowledge of the subject. That's where a book like Niel Bornstein's .NET and XML provides the glide path to a smooth landing in the ever-expanding world of extensible markup language.
The book is divided into two parts. The first is written and presented in the style of O'Reilly's Programming series, where adequate descriptions and code snippets of the broad use of XML in the .NET Framework are reviewed. Topics range from simple (reading and writing XML) to intermediate (manipulating XML with the .NET DOM implementation, navigating XML with Xpath, transforming XML with XSLT) to advanced (constraining XML with Schemas and XML Serialization). All code samples are in C# because, in the author's words, "it is, frankly, the best language for the job."
The second part of the book (slightly less than half the book's content) is a comprehensive quick reference for the various System.XML.* namespaces, including Schema, Serialization, XPath, and Xsl. The presentation style is identical to that found in O'Reilly's Nutshell series, and is essentially a reprint of the XML namespace chapters of O'Reilly's C# In A Nutshell book. A helpful type, method, and property index is also included toward the back of the book. Like nearly every programming title these days, the code snippets sprinkled throughout the text can be downloaded from the book's Web site. Interestingly, the author opted to provide build files for the examples using NAnt, a .NET interpretation of the popular Java build tool, Ant. NAnt can be freely downloaded from http://nant.sourceforge.net/.
Bornstein's approach to instructing the reader is less verbose than other .NET-oriented XML books on the market, and best suits the intermediate and advanced .NET programming community. The lengthiest discussions are allocated to introducing XML standards, but even these rarely exceed 10 pages. Considering entire books have been devoted to a single standard, such as XPath or XSLT, .NET and XML is not a book that offers exhaustive detail on XML technologies. Rather, it relies on the fact that .NET developers prefer the .NET environment because it abstracts the low-level grunt work, thereby making their jobs easier and more productive. As such, the author has taken the "teach as much, but no more" approach to the subject. The good news is that this approach works. The other approach Bornstein adopted that I especially appreciated was the creation of a fictitious hardware store inventory system to illustrate the book's collection of code samples. Using this technique kept the context of XML technologies and the associated .NET coding methodologies in perspective.
Overall, I was satisfied with this O'Reilly title. It may not be their best, but it accomplishes its advertised objective of helping .NET/XML developers "understand the intersection between the two technologies for maximum effectiveness."
- Mike Riley
Title: .NET and XML
Author: Niel M. Bornstein
Publisher: O'Reilly& Associates
Book Web Site: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/netxml/
Page Count: 514 pages