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Book Review: No Nonsense XML Web Development with PHP

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About five years ago, I sat down with a “Teach yourself HTML” book and a HTML editor, Hotdog, obtained from a CD on the front of a computer magazine, and wrote my first website. I had no idea what I was doing, but by trial and error (and a lot of help from friends) ended up with a site that worked, even if there was an awful lot of excess HTML floating around in it. Amazingly enough, that site worked pretty well until a few months ago, when I started to get complaints about its usability.

In the meantime I’d started a blog on Blogger, Philobiblon. By the same trial and error method I taught myself about CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) – although I only learnt that was what I was using a few months ago, when I started thinking about constructing a series of websites/blogs.

So, I thought, I should start again from the beginning, and acquired Thomas Myer’s No Nonsense XML Web Development With PHP. Reading through it, I quickly concluded that if I was to teach myself XML and PHP from the ground up, this would be a good way to do it. The book is well-structured, starting from the basics and explaining what you are doing in as close to “ordinary” English as is feasible. It also, importantly, has a good index.

But, in the end I decided, I just don’t have the time to start at the beginning and teach myself the full range of XML skills. I’m never going to be a real website developer; I’m really a content person. So I’ll just pick it up by the hit and miss method I’ve been using so far – usually knowing almost as much as I need, and begging for help when that fails.

But the book will still come in handy. When I stumble across something I don’t understand in the code of my new WordPress site, My London Your London, this reference will be by my side.

I’ve just one small complaint to the publisher, Sitepoint: Could you make a little more effort with the cover? What looks like a very bad bit of clip art, coloured a sickly orange, doesn’t an attractive image make.

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About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.
  • This is not really a review of the book – One would have expected some exposition of what the book covers and does not cover. Would’ve appreciated those details

    PHP is a good language, though, to harness – especially for those quick and dirty tasks that full-featured languages might be too daunting for the non-programmer

    I’ll still stick to C#, though, for the most part

  • I suppose that is a fair complaint Aaman. I was writing as a general user rather than a specialist, for a general audience. But if it is helpful to you (and others) the chapter headings are:
    Introduction to XML
    XML in Practice
    DTDs for Consistency
    Displaying XML in a Browser
    XSLT in Detail
    Manipulating XML with JavaScript/DHTML
    Manipulating XML with PHP
    RSS and RDF
    XML and Web Services
    XML and Databases
    PHP XML Functions
    CMS Administration Tool