Harnessing the power of XML for Web-based development.
Frank P. Coyle, Addison Wesley 2002
Today's Web seems poised for major changes in the not-too-distant future. Already in place or soon to be developed is the supporting technology for an expanding array of novel, even revolutionary, Web services. While no one can predict exactly which of the coming changes are destined to dominate tomorrow's Web, it is generally accepted that XML will be at the heart of the software system modification that will necessarily accompany new Web applications and services.
Written for business and technical professionals, Frank Coyle's new book, XML, Web Services, and the Data Revolution, packs a world of information about XML in the context of its value in the Web's dynamic, loosely coupled, data-driven network environment. Coyle explains how XML's simple rules for defining data vocabularies and protocols have opened up new possibilities for server-to-server interaction in the form of Web services for dynamic discovery and interaction. His book showcases XML at work in a wide array of applications, and explores how major software organizations have responded to the changes brought about by XML-based technology.
Coyle, who is director of the Software Engineering Program at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, brings a rich background of experience to his writing that allows him to present technical details in the broad perspective required to appreciate their potential for practical applications. He provides readers with the insight and understanding they can use to harness XML technology for successful Web-based enterprises.
Besides its excellent prose, Coyle's XML, Web Services, and the Data Revolution has a number of additional features readers will appreciate. Foremost is the book's organization. The book begins with an opening chapter describing XML's short but productive life as the premier change agent responsible for expanding the way the World Wide Web can exchange information and host communication infrastructures. In less than 30 pages the book presents a coherent and inclusive overview of what is at best a complex subject, involving as it does radical shifts in software design attitudes and the adoption of less monolithic approaches to applications and services. As will be true of all remaining chapters, the author's job of making his material readily understandable is greatly helped by the abundant use of well-designed graphics and highlighted sidebars. Chapters are also preceded by interest focusing forewords and comprehensive end-of-chapter summaries. Chapters end with a list of resource references to relevant Websites and journal articles.
Following the first chapter the book takes up in logical sequence these topics. Chapter 2: the family of XML technologies, which includes those used for data presentation, for data structure and typing, and for manipulating XML. Chapter 3: The dimensions of XML in practice, which deals with the application spectrum in the three waves of its historical development. Chapter 4: Entirely dedicated to SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), the important XML-based protocol for exchanging information in a decentralized, distributed environment. Chapter 5: Web Services that take SOAP to the next level where businesses can interact freely over the Web instead of over preestablished networks. Chapter 6: A fair and unbiased presentation that cuts through the hype surrounding the major competing SOAP-based Web services initiatives, including Microsoft's .NET, Sun Microsystems, IBM, Oracle and BEA Systems. Chapter 7: Discussion of XML security, which (as distinct from pie-in-the-sky applications) is possible with the existing technologies discussed in previous chapters. Coyle concludes his book with two valuable appendices and a useful glossary. Appendix A covers XML language basics, while Appendix B describes the SOAP protocol standards under development by W3C committees.
In the current environment for Web-based developments XML has achieved a commanding presence as a clean, powerful cross-platform language. IT professionals and business executives needing an introductory education on XML and its related impact on Web services and data manipulation will find it in Coyle's book. IT college professors may find use for it, as either a textbook or supplementary reading in their courses.
James F. Doyle is a member of the Clark Atlanta University faculty.