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  1. #1
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    Essential XML Course Proofer

    Hello everyone.

    A friend and I run a small group on yahoogroups called cyberdevdigest; it's comprised of a few experts and beginners and we're aiming to learn from one another. Some came from a group called HTML Gurus which did group HTML lessons. A member of cyberdev suggested we could do the same in our group, and lo and behold the next thing I know I'm teaching XML.

    Scary thought, isn't it! lol I'd rather be teaching SSI+ or PHP, but the group wanted to know what all the buzz was about with XML.

    Well, the course is underway; so far the particiapants have completed lesson one, lesson two will be submitted tomorrow and the third lesson will be released to the group on Wednesday.

    ...but the enthusiasm/participation I had expected before this started just isn't there. A few members are students and busy with finals while a few others haven't been as active because of illness. In a way, though, that's a good thing. I'll be able to make a few mistakes as I find my way through teaching XML and I won't have to worry about messing too many people up.

    Regardless, I'll save the lessons and we'll probably run the course again when new members join or when some of the old members have less going on in their lives.

    Each lesson is about two pages and there are five lessons scheduled:
    Lesson 1: What is XML?
    Lesson 2: Using XML Applications
    Lesson 3: The Rules of XML
    Lesson 4: Writing Your Own XML Week
    Lesson 5: XSLT - Showing Data with Style

    They're available at:
    http://www.cyberdevdigest.com/courses/xml/essential

    Are there any experts that would be willing to proof these lessons as I release them to make comments, suggestions and corrections of any errors I may have made?

    Thanks in advance,

    Tim
    Timothy Boronczyk

  • #2
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    from Lesson One: What is XML?:
    XML isn't really a language like HTML, TeX or SVG; XML is a subset of rules taken from SGML that lay down guidelines on how new markup languages should be written. Many new and specialized Markup Languages (called applications) have cropped up and anyone can use XML to write their own markup language to fit a certain need. Because the application follow the XML guidelines, the information in its documents can be easily shared with others and understood by various interpreter programs.
    This isn't an error as such, but I think you should try to change the focus a bit on the fact that XML is a structure for creating documents and languages that sematically describes data. I also object to your note about 'applications' there. RSS for instance is a new language based on the XML structure, but it isn't an 'application'. 'Applications' are rather the use of XML in any specific task then the actual language. (Not to speak of the clatch with the use of the word 'application' in other computer related situations as describing a small program)



    I find a gap here where you should really tell about how XML consists of four components: the data; it's structure; the 'template' provided by DTD, Relax NG or XML Schema that describes the rules for that structure; and the XML well-formedness. I think it's essential to describe how XML describes content structure and how a document can differ from being a pure XML document using only well-formedness, to being a semantically structured document described by an XML language.

    Lesson Two: Using XML Applications
    Here, I still find your use of the word 'application' a bit misplaced. In fact, most XML applications are lacking DTD. When someone has take the time to write a DTD that describes the structure of document (or more often, a language to use in many different documents) it's usually no longer simply an application, but a document in a full-fledged structure language.
    liorean <[lio@wg]>
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  • #3
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    Thank you for your review and comments.

    I'm using the term application as I believe that's how it was described in the XML Black Book published by Coreolis a few years back. Perhaps the terminology has changed or maybe I'm just plain out wrong. lol.

    I guess the reason I'm trying to aproach the subject in the way that Iam is that I found XML confusing at first. I came from an HTML background and the hype of XML/XHTML was just not really helpful. And honestly, my XML "epiphany" didn't really come until I used it to mark up data in a flat database file. And the participants in the course are coming from the same background I did. I don't want them to have the misconceptions I first had, although I don't want to be diseminating innaccurate information, either.

    I do approach MarkUp langauges as starting with content first, and then inserting the tags. This emphasizes content as opposed to the design emphasis in the beginning HTML tutorials.


    Well formedness and validity are covered in the the 3rd lesson, and DTD is lesson 4. I think that perhaps those topics should be introduced earlier? But again the difficulty is to provide 5 cursory lessons that give someone a taste for what XML is and peak their interest for more indepth study. People are lazy and don't like to read (not necessarily everyone, but pretty much everyone who's taking the course) so I'm trying to work with what I've got.

    Some of the participants are new HTML people, and get snippy when you say they should use closing tags for their HTML elements regardless of the DTD they use (<p></p> <p></p> as opposed to <p><p>). Without programming knowledge to parse the XML document, many don't see how XML fits into the whole scheme of things.

    Comments? More Suggestions?
    Thanks.
    Timothy Boronczyk


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