The Many Tools of XML: XSLT, XPath, and More!

I recently ran across an interesting question on stackoverflow. In summary, a novice developer hads been learning XML and XML related technologies, such as XPath, XSLT, Xquery, Schemas, etc. This developer acknowledged the importance of learning XML, but questioned whether or not this array of X-related technologies was worth his time.

DevWebPro has covered the basics of XSLT, more than once, XPath, and various other XML tools. Thus, we will jump on board the boat supporting the XML toolbox. Why wouldn’t we? As the aforementioned XML tutorials cover, you can do a lot of nifty things with these X-tools. Imagine changing a large XML document to new format. The conventional way may be to use a script to parse and traverse the XML document and spit out the new format. However, that script would need to be ran every time you needed to extract information from existing XML documents for the new format. Instead, XSLT can be used to transform these documents on the fly. Want to find a particular node or piece of data in a huge XML document? XPath is your answer. Need to enforce node relationships and XML structure? Build your own schema and let your XML parsers enforce it for you. XML, without its vast array of tools, is not the mighty data structure that the IT world makes it out to be. It’s the development and acceptance of these wide array of technologies that actually make XML a top choice for so many projects.

In the end, it boils down to whoever/wherever this new developer is learning XML from are failing to convey the strengths of these XML tools. They are, as stated, tools. It does not make sense if you say: "Wow, apples are really good for you and popular!", but then say, "But, I don’t know why I would use this apple picking machine." Yes, you could pick apples without a special machine, but if the machine is designed to make obtaining apples easier and faster, then why wouldn’t you use it?

Categorized as XML

By Michael Marr

Michael Marr is a staff writer for WebProNews

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