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Introduction to XML

This is chapter one from the book, XML and FrameMaker, by Kay Ethier (Apress, ISBN: 159059276X. 2004). Ethier reviews some of the basic XML terms and rules, and provides a basic overview of the purpose of DTDs and XSLT.

Author Info:
By: Kay Ethier
Rating: 5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars5 stars / 8
June 15, 2004
  1. · Introduction to XML
  2. · A Review of Basic Terminology
  3. · Terminology Continued
  4. · Understanding XML Rules (1-3)
  5. · Understanding XML Rules (4-5)
  6. · Understanding XML Rules (6-7)
  7. · Looking at XML with Formatting

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Introduction to XML - Looking at XML with Formatting
(Page 7 of 7 )

You can also use style sheets to format your XML (make it display a certain way). XML can be formatted using several methods. 

  • You can bring XML into tools to change the way it looks

  • You can use style sheets to format XML

  • You can use the XML formatting and transforming language, called XSLT, to adjust XML

XSLT allows you to use the tags within your XML document to create formatted output. The formatting could be as simple as adding bold to an object with a <company_name> tag. The formatting can also be as complex as telling all the invoice pieces to go into a table and become sortable.

Note: XSLT is written in XML.

Getting Started with a Pilot Project

How do you get started with XML? You now have an idea about what is in an XML document. You have a basic understanding of the purpose of DTDs and XSLT.

There are actually better questions that you should try to answer for yourself. For what do you want to use XML? It can be used to do many different things. What issues are you facing that have sent you searching for a better alternative? Start with answers to these questions and then move forward.

Once you finish implementing XML to fix a specific problem, you will start to see other places where it can fit into your environment.

Still don't know where to start? Then start small! Pick a pilot or pet project and give XML a whirl. Find a list, a directory, or some other information that has a pattern to it. Take that and try to duplicate it in XML, creating a structure based on the pattern. You may need some help from your Webmaster or a developer (if you can get your hands on one).

XML fits into a lot of places. It can replace or work with other technologies. It can be used instead of scripts or to supplement them. It can work with databases or on its own to store content. Before you dive into what XML might do, it can help if you learn more about what it can do for you.


In closing, let me reiterate that understanding XML's rules is not difficult. Typing an XML document is also not difficult. What is difficult is figuring out what to do with XML.

If you feel that you need more information on XML before proceeding into FrameMaker, there are many, many resources available for XML, DTDs, and XSLT. Start with www.w3.org. Then, to figure out what that site is really talking about, go to www.w3schools.com.

You might also pick up an XML book at www.amazon.com, www.fatbrain.com, or your local bookstore. Try the XML Weekend Crash Course, if you are really starting from scratch, or visit www.apress.com to learn more about books by the company that published this one. And, once you feel comfortable with XML, try moving on to a book on XSLT.

This chapter is from XML and Framemaker, by Kay Ethier (Apress, 2004, ISBN: 159059276X). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today.

Buy this book now.

DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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