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XSLT book

Can you guys recommend a good XSLT reference? Thanks

me_in_the_corner
Friday, June 27, 2003

My short list of recommended books for XSL/XML is shown below. Note that there are many available books on both XML and XSL; the books listed below are more specifically oriented towards usage such as using a web server to transform relatively straightforward XML structures and files to complex HTML output and transforming XML structures into different XML structures. If you are specifically looking for technical details for using Microsoft's MSXML parser, I think the current best source of this information is Microsoft web sites, such as http://msdn.microsoft.com/xml/default.asp . (Note: This list is based on my own experience and reviews of books from about a year and a half ago - there may be more recent books that are better.)

I would categorize the 3 books below as:
Tutorial - XSLT: Working with XML and HTML
Introduction - The XSL Companion
Reference - XSLT Programmer's Reference
although each book contains some aspects of each category. Also, since people learn in different ways, other people may categorize the books differently. These books assume, to some extent, that the reader already has some elementary understanding of the basic structure of XML and of HTML presentation. Note that there are occasional minor errors in some of the code examples in the books, but this doesn't interfere with the concepts being demonstrated by the examples.

(1) XSLT: Working with XML and HTML by Khun Yee Fung
Price: $39.95
Paperback - 441 pages 1st edition (December 20, 2000) Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201711036
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201711036

This book is about XSLT, or XSL Transformations (XSL stands for Extensible Stylesheet Language), which is a language developed by W3C that can be used to transform XML documents. XSLT is so versatile that it can transform one kind of XML document to another kind of XML document, to an HTML document, or to a text document.

This book is for anybody who wants to use XSLT to transform XML documents to HTML documents. We will look at what XSLT is all about, how it is used for transformation to HTML, and especially how to write the XSLT documents for the transformation. Although XML to HTML is the focus of this book, the principles of transformation do not change whether you want to transform XML documents to HTML, XML, or text. Once you know how to produce HTML documents, you will possess the knowledge to produce the other two types as well.

(2) XSL Companion, The by Neil Bradley
Price: $27.96
Paperback - 336 pages 1 edition (September 7, 2000) Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201674874
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0201674874

This book focuses on the details of how XSLT in particular can be used to mold information on the fly. The author breaks the standard apart into digestible chapters that cover, say, "contextual formatting" and "sorting." The content is fast moving and demands a technical reader who is comfortable with complexity. Those who are new to XML technologies should pick up a general tutorial prior to tackling this book.

Along with text explanations of all of the magic that XSLT and XSL can do, the author uses code snippets and numerous graphical diagrams to illustrate information processing, layout, and tree navigation. These visual elements add much to the explanation of what otherwise would be abstract concepts indeed.

The author addresses head-on the fact that much of XSLT's job today is to turn XML data into HTML-formatted documents that are compatible with the current batch of browsers. There is plenty of focus in this book on how that is done, but the chief purpose remains the exploration of the powerful transformation and formatting features that the XSL standards provide.

(3) XSLT Programmer's Reference 2nd Edition by Michael Kay
Price: $27.99
[Note: Don't get a used copy of the 1st edition.]
Paperback - 800 pages 2nd edition (April 2001) Wrox Press Inc; ISBN: 1861005067
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1861005067

Kay calls XSLT the "SQL of the Web"--a phrase that is sure to perk up the ears of many readers expecting a simple documentation of just another Web-language standard. Like other Wrox Programmer's Reference series titles, this book starts off with chapters that rapidly introduce the concepts and set the context for the core of the book, which is a complete documentation of the XSLT standard. The book uses this space well to explore the transformation process and the tree structure that is used for both input and output of style sheet documents. By the time the reader gets to the reference section of the book, he or she will be convinced of the power of XSLT.

Each element of XSLT is covered with concise examples that include both the source XML code and style sheet code. XSLT style sheets can be used in a variety of ways and across a wide spectrum of complexity. The book helps the reader grasp this concept by presenting four style-sheet design patterns that comprise the vast majority of implementations. The text looks at each, demonstrating how to identify the design pattern by its content and apply it to appropriate circumstances.

Philip Dickerson
Friday, June 27, 2003

I really like the tutorials on http://www.zvon.org

I would start out learning about XPath, which is used withing XSLT.

anon
Friday, June 27, 2003

There is some pretty good material in the MSXML4 SDK, enough to get me started anyway.

It really isn't a very big subject, most of the books dedicated to it seem to be full of fluff rather than useful info.

Tony E
Saturday, June 28, 2003

I'll second http://www.zvon.org -- it's an excellent reference site for all sorts of technologies, including xslt, xsl-fo, schema, etc.

Chas
Saturday, June 28, 2003

The O'Reilly XSLT book by Doug Tidwell is fantastic.  I got up to spped doing some fairly complex transforms very quickly after having read the book and it continues to be a  good reference.

K
Monday, June 30, 2003

http://www.vbxml.com/xsl/tutorials/intro/

Justin
Monday, June 30, 2003

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