Learning XSLT moves smoothly from the simple to complex, illustrating all aspects of XSLT 1.0 through step-by-step examples that you'll practice as you work through the book. Thorough in its coverage of the language, the book makes few assumptions about what you may already know. You'll learn about XSLT's template-based syntax, how XSLT templates work with each other, and gain an understanding of XSLT variables. Learning XSLT also explains how the XML Path Language (XPath) is used by XSLT and provides a glimpse of what the future holds for XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0. The ability to transform one XML vocabulary to another is fundamental to exploiting the power of XML. Learning XSLT is a carefully paced, example-rich introduction to XSLT that will have you understanding and using XSLT on your own in no time.
Index is incomplete
Mr. Fitzgerald specifically stated that he didn't intend for this book to be a comprehensive reference manual. But you would think that the index would provide a decent cross-reference of topics. Try looking up xsl:value-of, or xsl:for-each. You won't find them no matter what topic you search under. Usually OReilly does a great job explaining technical topics, but as with most XSLT books I've read, the examples are trite and provide minimal insite. I have to say I'm disappointed.
Trivia or Tutorial In Nature?
Imagine you just bought a new car and stuck the keys in the ignition. Do you worry about every little minute detail of what's under the hood? Or do you just plant your foot down on the accelerator and drive?
Learning XSLT is one of those books that has a strange `hiccup` feel to it. Reading this book is like putting your foot down on the accelerator, only to have a chicken cross in front of you to slam on the brakes and then accelerate again. Only then, having another chicken cross and yet again slam on the brakes. Tutorials are meant to be smooth, uninterrupted reading. Learning XSLT is an abrupt stop and go journey that resulted in it being tossed into the far back shelf of my personal library.
For example, a really annoying feature in the book's layout are the icons and box comments. Frequently, they interrupt the flow causing switching of mental gears. Often too wordy, too detailed, and downright puzzling to why they even exist in the first place, they are anal and annoying. Surely the intricacies of QCNames, Code Points, Unicode, xml:lang attribute in every minute detail should have been removed out of this book.
As an example of how poorly this book reads, I point to page 9. The section is `Using apply-templates`. Two pages later of long winded overanalysis (and yet another interruption with a large box comment regarding Unicode), we end up with a trivial six line example using apply-templates. Boldfaced and detached away from the original point of discussion. By this time, the reader is flipping pages to go back to recall what the entire section was about. That is the general feel of this book - a lack of cohesiveness.
After reading the first three chapters, I wondered where this book was heading. It read in scatter brained pieces and often too detailed for my liking - overly informative to be of any practical use. If you like getting bogged down in trivia minutiae, this is your book.
The examples were poor and unfufilling; rarely showing a big picture example in a larger, useful, practical context. Most of the people who pick up this book will want to transform XML into XHTML - which this book fails to address in a dedicated chapter.
Templates, the most important feature from a coding structure and development standpoint, is held off until Chapter 10. This should have been moved to earlier chapters, followed by discussion of axes, functions, XPATH, etc.
Learning XSLT does not to a very good job of organizing content for understanding and instruction. It definitely failed to hold my attention. Out of all the O'Reilly books I have, this one was not very useful and needs a total rewrite!
Not so good for me
That such a poor quality book should come from O'Reilly is baffling. The book is very poorly organized, not covering templates--the basis of XSLT--until chapter 10! The author's examples are convoluted and unrevealing, and mostly seem to prove the point that his understanding of XSLT is far greater than yours. I got through the first three chapters and then gave up for a Sams book, which is much better.
A good introductory book on XSLT
Learning XSLT was a helpful introduction to XSLT and I really enjoyed my progress through the book. Mr. Fitzgerald doesn't spend too much time on lengthy explanations. Simple explanations are followed by illustrative examples that you should type and run yourself.
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