XML by Example: Building E-Commerce Applications demonstrates XML's powerful E-commerce capabilities by walking you through the construction of a real-world catalog application - start to finish. Along the way, you'll learn virtually every key technique for building XML-based E-commerce sites.
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Sean McGrath makes understanding XML simple by gently easing his readers into the topic. His overview discusses what XML is and how it differs philosophically from HTML without competing with it. This introduction shows why XML is generating such excitement and how it will be of great importance to electronic commerce.
Next, McGrath demonstrates XML in action in an electronic-commerce environment. His conversational style leads the reader through what could be very dry topics, such as publishing databases with XML or using Channel Definition Format (CDF) to create a push-publishing channel. His friendly tone is all the handier in the section that examines XML and related standards.
The final section looks at three e-commerce initiatives based on XML--Open Financial Exchange, Electronic Data Exchange, and Open Trading Protocol. An enclosed CD-ROM contains an excellent collection of XML e-commerce development tools and useful reference material. The book's editor, Charles Goldfarb, is the developer of SGML, the parent mark-up language upon which XML is based. --Elizabeth LewisFrom the Inside Flap:
“XML may just be the “killer application” needed to open up the Worldwide Web for electronic commerce.”
Quotes such as this are common on the World Wide Web at the moment. An ever increasing number of Web pages seem to feature “XML” and “electronic commerce” in the same sentence! So just what is XML? Where did it come from? Why is it being heralded as the kick start that the electronic commerce revolution has been waiting for? In this book I hope to answer these questions.
XML is the most exciting technology I have been involved in since I first tapped a computer keyboard in 1982. The excitement around XML is positively palpable. You can cut it with a knife! Nobody knows for sure where this technology is headed but the smart money (and lots of it!) points to a healthy future for XML in the increasingly Web centric world of business. Is XML some major technical breakthrough cooked up by research scientists?
No it is not.
Is XML something that could only have happened in recent years because of other technology constraints?
No it is not.
XML could have happened at any time since the late 1960s when the seeds of the ideas it embodies drew their first breath. Perhaps the world was simply not ready for it? Perhaps the world then did not need what XML has to offer badly enough.
The Internet revolution and in particular, the frenzied excitement about electronic commerce on the Web has changed all that. We are in a new world order now. A world in which the World Wide Web, the Internet, intranets, and extranets will change both the technological and commercial landscape of our planet for good.
The plain fact of the matter is that electronic commerce today needs what XML has to offer. XML is not, like some hot technologies before it, a solution waiting for a problem. It is a solution to a very real existing problem — how to make the Web a bet ter place to do business.
Evidence of XML's promise as an enabling technology for electronic commerce abound. Just look at the number of start-up companies where the words “XML” and “e-commerce” feature prominently on their home pages! Although XML certainly has killer applications far removed from commerce it is surely no accident that much of the early buzz around XML features phrases such as “business transactions,” “open financial exchange,” “open trading protocol,” and so on.
In this book, I will flesh out what XML is all about and illustrate how it can be applied to electronic commerce. I will show how enterprising companies, both large and small, can wield XML for commercial benefit today.
I hope it illustrates why XML is good for business and triggers ideas for applying it in your own endeavors, as I've done for my company After all, it is people like you and I who will make e-commerce happen by building real solutions to real commercial problems with the power that XML provides.
I hope this book will help you get started with XML, building e-commerce applications.
Sean McGrath Enniscrone County Sligo Ireland
About this book
This book is structured into four major parts
This intention of this part of the book is to provide a rapid overview of XML, illustrate how it is currently being put to use in the real world, survey the benefits to be gained, and provide just enough of the details to get you up and running with XML.
Chapter 1 is an executive summary of XML laid out like an internet FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). Even if you know nothing about XML, reading this one chapter will give you a broad grasp of the technology and its business applications.
Chapter 2 is a collection of eight independent and varied examples of where organizations and individuals are putting XML to practical commercial use today.
Chapter 3 reflects on the uses of XML illustrated in chapter 2 and categorizes the various commercial benefits that result from using XML based technologies.
Chapter 4 is a pragmatic look at the areas where XML can be gainfully deployed in achieving competitive advantage. This chapter introduces a theme which pervades the rest of the book. Namely, an e-business selling computer equipment via a Web site. The various ways in which an e-business, any e-business, can deploy XML to their advantage are illustrated.
Chapter 5 rounds out part 1 with a dip into the important details of the XML standard. The coverage is intentionally at a high level introducing just enough of the details to get started designing XML e-commerce applications.
Part II—XML By example
In this part of the book we take real world examples of XML technologies and build e-commerce applications with them.
Chapter 6 presents the XML technologies built into Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4 and show how it can be used today to leverage the benefits of XML. We illustrate how the data binding features of Dynamic HTML can be used with XML and also show how XML's sister standard for stylesheets—XSL—can be used to convert XML into HTML for deployment on today's Web browsers.
Chapter 7 provides a compelling example of what can happen when you have the freedom to create your own markup language — a freedom that XML provides. In this chapter we develop an application for transparently publishing a Microsoft Access database on a Web site.
In chapter 8 we look at how XML can be used to describe and capture the details of interactive Web services in a way that allows them to be batch automated. This application is a good example of how a small amount of XML can pack quite a punch!
In chapter 9 we implement push publishing using the XML based Active Channels technology of Internet Explorer 4.
Chapter 10 rounds out this part of the book with practical examples of building XML utility applications in the Perl, Python and Java programming languages.
Part III—A closer look at XML and related standards
In this part of the book we dig into the details of the core standards and proposed standards. We also take a look at how SGML (from which XML was born) can usefully be used in tandem with XML.
Chapter 11 presents many of the details of the XML standard. This chapter is a reference resource rather than a casual read. Use it to dip into for the details as you need them. Some further details are also provided in Appendix A.
In chapter 12 we take a look at XLL, the proposal for a standard way of layering powerful hypertext functionality onto XML documents.
In chapter 13 we take a look at XSL, the proposal for a standard way of specifying formatting for XML documents. We illustrate many of the ideas using Microsoft's XSL technology preview application MSXSL. In chapter 14 we take a look at Unicode — the character encoding standard on which XML and HTML 4.0 are based.
Chapter 15 presents the Document Object Model (DOM) proposed standard. The DOM provides a language and application independent interface to both HTML and XML documents.
Chapter 16 finishes this part of the book with a raid on the richly stocked larder of technologies developed over the years around the SGML standard. It provides an overview of the differences between SGML and XML and how you can gainfully use both.
Part IV—E-Commerce Initiatives based on XML
Even though XML is still hot out of the oven, a variety of far-reaching initiatives are under way to make XML the platform of choice for electronic commerce.
Chapter 17 presents the Open Financial Exchange initiative that promises to make XML a vital part of the e-commerce revolution.
Chapter 18 presents current thinking on how XML can help jumpstart the e- Commerce revolution by embracing and perhaps replacing the pre-Web e- commerce standards such as ANSI X.12 and EDIFACT.
Chapter 19 presents the Open Trading Protocol, a comprehensive e-commerce proposal for capturing and interchanging trading data with XML.
Acknowledgments Many, many people contributed to this book in many different ways. For contributions to content, my knowledge, my sanity or all of these I would like to thank Dr. Charles F. Goldfarb, James Clark, Jon Bosak, Tim Bray, Michael Sperberg-Mc Queen, David Megginson, David Durand, Dr. David Abrahamson, Michael Kilcawley, Dr. John Spinosa, Eve Maler, Henry Thompson, Chris Maden, Norman Walsh, Paul Prescod, Rick Jelliffe, Len Bullard, Adam Denning, Andrew Layman, Chris Lovett, Jeremie Miller, Joakin ... stman, Caren De Witt, Charles Axel Allen, Irene Vatton, Kirsten Castagnoli, Laurie Doherty, Peter Murray-Rust and Traci Massaro. To all those whose names I have failed to mention, apologies and thank you.
For sterling work picking the worst of the fluff off the drafts my thanks go to Noel Duffy. Thanks also to Noel for grappling with some of the conundrums that inevitably arise when you attempt to install a crazy mix of Web browsers, Web Servers, programming languages, applets and databases onto a single machine.
For the use of his house as a writers retreat, my thanks to Neville Bagnall. To JC the dog, heartfelt thanks for your constant absence while this book was being written. Both the postman and I are very grateful. To all at Prentice Hall: Mark Taub, Joanne Anzalone, Patti Guerrieri, Christa Carroll, my thanks for all your help, encouragement and hard work. Finally, I wish to thank my wife Johanna who is, as I write this, still speaking to me! Given what she has had to put up with since this project began, I can only thank her profusely. Truly a woman amongst women. Johanna, I promise I will not write another book! Well, not this month anyway:-).
A Note about URI and URL
In this book you will come across numerous examples of the term “URI” (Universal Resource Indicator) as well as the more familiar “URL” (Universal Resource Locator). The term URI and its precise usage is a work in progress by Tim Berners Lee — the inventor of the Web. The term URI is a more general term for resources on the Web of which URLs are one particular type. The term URI is used exclusively in XML and related standards. Earlier technologies continue to use the term URL; hence the mix of terms in the book.
The example web site used throughout this book is acmepc. At the time of writing this book no such web site is registered on the Internet. This is a purely fictional web site created for the explicit and sole purpose of teaching XML concepts.
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Book Description Prentice Hall PTR, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0139601627