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June 7, 2000

The Developer's Holy Grail: Java and XML

Sebastopol, CA-- Java and XML: The pairing of the two is the developer's holy grail in the 21st century. While Java and XML are certainly useful solutions in their own right, the pairing of the two has application developers foaming at the mouth and drooling on their keyboards. However, these developers are often found rubbing their temples in frustration when it comes to putting that coupling to work.

XML has been the biggest buzzword on the Internet community for the past year. But how do you cut through all the hype and actually put it to work? XML and Java share features that are ideal for building Web-based enterprise applications: platform-independence, extensibility, reusability, global language (Unicode) support. And both are based on industry standards. Together Java and XML allow enterprises to simplify and lower cost of information sharing and data exchange. The latest O'Reilly release, Java and XML, shows how to put the two together, building real-world applications in which both the code and the data are truly portable.

"Brett's new book, Java and XML, is arguably the most important new book on Java this year. Brett's too modest to say so himself, but he's done an excellent job of showing how XML and Java come together, and why that confluence is of vital importance for any Java developer," says O'Reilly's Java editor Mike Loukides. "XML is often described as a language that makes data portable. I like to think of XML as enabling 'self-describing data': data that carries around with it a description of what it means. This is a powerful concept, because it means that applications with no prior knowledge of each other can communicate effectively using XML as a medium."

"I think the excitement around XML is because of one of its most important features: it doesn't say a whole lot about itself," says author Brett McLaughlin. "By contrast, HTML has a very specific set of tools--tags and attributes--that are recognized and processed only one way. XML says, 'We're not intelligent enough to think of every possible way you use your data, so we'll let you use it in whatever way makes sense.' You have to let your document users know your tag meanings, but XML provides for this by defining DTDs (document type descriptors) to give tags concrete definitions, attributes, and all kinds of parameters. This adds true portability. Even with Java, data still has to be represented."

"Year after year, project after project, Java developers like me wind up creating their own little proprietary formats to represent a particular project," says McLaughlin. "When the very next project has different requirements, data must be represented differently. Even though we say Java is 'write once, run anywhere,' really it is not. You can compile your byte code and then move it around, but you have to make sure anyone using your application can support that. XML lets you work a little smarter by defining a standard way for any data to be defined, without defining the particular semantics. XML creates portable code and portable data. For the first time, we really have complete application portability, something we've all been claiming for years."

Java revolutionized the programming world by providing a platform-independent programming language. XML takes the revolution a step further by providing a platform-independent language for interchanging data. McLaughlin's Java and XML shows you how to put the two together to build rich web sites with dynamically generated content, to write enterprise software that lowers the cost of information sharing and data exchange, and to develop simple and effective solutions to other problems requiring portable data.

This is the first book to cover the most recent version of the DOM specification (DOM Level 2) and the SAX API (SAX 2.0). It's also the first book to cover JDOM, a new API released last April, that makes it easier for Java applications to manipulate XML. "I've seen plenty of books that describe XML in greater or lesser detail. And I've seen a smaller number of books that describe the Java APIs for working with XML," says Loukides. "But I really haven't seen another book that puts it all together--a book that gives you insight into how to use XML and Java to solve real-world problems, using the most up-to-date technologies (like SAX 2 and JDOM)."

If you are developing with XML, or think you will be in the future--if you're involved in any aspect of web publishing--or if you're developing software for electronic commerce, Java and XML will become your indispensable companion.

(Includes a quick reference to SAX 2.0, DOM Level 2, and JDOM 1.0.)

Online Resources:

Java and XML
By Brett McLaughlin
1st Edition June 2000
0-596-00016-2, 512 pages, $39.95 (US$)
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938

About O'Reilly

O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

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