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XML is the leading standard for enabling business-to-business e-commerce, as well as any application that needs to communicate across different platforms. This book focuses on the application of XML when using scripting languages, because these languages make it easier to quickly build Web applications. Two of the most popular open-source languages are covered - Perl and Python - but there are chapters on PHP and several upstart languages, including Ruby and Rebol. The book gives coverage of the core XML processing issues, including the basics of parsing XML documents, converting XML to and from different formats (including HTML), and translating objects for use with databases.
Aimed at experienced programmers, Processing with Perl, Python, and PHP is a guide to processing XML with popular scripting languages. The author is a strong advocate of script, as opposed to C++ or Java, on the grounds of speed of development, ease of use, and cross-platform support. With explanations and examples, he shows how to parse XML using Perl, Python, or PHP and offers brief notes on other scripting languages. To make sense of the book, readers need to be already familiar with the script language of their choice, and to a lesser extent with XML itself.
The opening chapters offer a brief introduction to XML and DTD (Document Type Definition) files and explain the basic concepts of parsing XML using event-driven or tree-based APIs. Next comes a long section on XML and Perl, covering the XML::Parser module, Perl and Unicode, generating and converting XML, and using SOAP or XML-RPC. A parallel section shows how the same things can be achieved with XML and Python, and there's a further chapter on Zope, the Python application server. PHP has a shorter section, focusing on XML parsing, working with RSS (Rich Site Summary) XML documents, and XML-RPC. The last part of the book offers a chapter each on four other scripting languages: REBOL, Ruby, Tcl, and AppleScript.
The snag with this book is that few developers work with all these languages, and covering so many limits the detail on any one. Even so, it is interesting to compare the differences between the various approaches, particularly between Perl and Python, which are the author's main area of expertise. There are also helpful insights on how to convert XML to and from database formats. --Tim Anderson, Amazon.co.uk
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