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December 4, 2003

"Learning XSLT": A Hands-On Learning Guide to XSLT and XPath

Sebastopol, CA--XSLT is a powerful language for transforming XML documents into something else. That "something else" can be an HTML document, another XML document, a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, a Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file, a Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) file, Java code, or a number of other things. First, you write an XSLT stylesheet that defines the rules for transforming the XML document; then the XSLT processor does the work.

As useful as XSLT is, its peculiar characteristics make it a difficult language in which to get started. In fact, newcomers are often a little dazed on first contact. In Learning XSLT (O'Reilly, US $34.95) author Michael Fitzgerald offers a hands-on introduction to help readers get up to speed with XSLT quickly.

"Learning XSLT" helps developers find a clear path into this technology by explaining XSLT in detail, while recognizing that much of XSLT isn't obvious, even to experienced programmers. Readers will explore a broad range of XSLT features, from simple templates to the more obscure corners of the technology, practicing the techniques along the way. According to Fitzgerald, his twenty years of writing have led him to the conclusion that we all learn best by doing; therefore the book is rich with hands-on examples to help readers begin doing useful work with XSLT the same day they start reading it.

The focus of "Learning XSLT" is getting readers up to speed quickly. The book contains little reference material. For that, Fitzgerald recommends O'Reilly's "XSLT" by Doug Tidwell. As Fitzgerald explains, "'Learning XSLT' will get readers off to a running start. It's not bogged down in getting all the excruciating details right--it's all about getting XSLT to do stuff immediately. It will be hard for a reader not to feel successful in the first chapter."

"Learnng XSLT" moves smoothly from the simple to complex, illustrating all aspects of XSLT 1.0 through step-by-step examples. Thorough in its coverage of the language, the book makes few assumptions about what readers may already know. The book covers XSLT's template-based syntax, how XSLT templates work with each other, and XSLT variables. "Learning XSLT" also explains how the XML Path Language (XPath) is used by XSLT and provides a glimpse of what the future holds for XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0.

The ability to transform one XML vocabulary to another is fundamental to exploiting the power of XML. "Learning XSLT" is a carefully paced, hands-on introduction to the technology that will have readers understanding and using XSLT in no time, even if it's their first glance at the technology.

Additional Resources:

Learning XSLT
Michael Fitzgerald
ISBN 0-596-00327-7, 352 pages, $34.95 US, $54.95 CA
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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