Peter Murray-Rust Peter at
Mon Mar 24 20:49:35 GMT 1997

In message <c=US%a=_%p=AGS%l=MD-ADMIN-970324191657Z-158 at> "Girard, Craig" writes:
> Does anyone know a good site to find information on XML for a beginner?
> Preferably something with tutorials.
This is an important question and it's something that a number of xml-dev'ers 
have addressed in some way.  Remember that we all learn in different ways, so
what I write may not fit your needs.

Firstly it's important for you to assess you needs in the light of what you
already know, for example are you:

	- a programmer? (reading FAQ/xml-dev is as good as any, I suspect)
	- an informatician, with some acquaintance of SGML?  Then you need
		to know what's different (and simpler).  The FAQ covers
		most of it.
	- a newcomer to the field of structured information? I can offer some
		simple tutorials and examples under:
		Although there is a molecular bias, there are several that
		make general sense.  The XML is a simple subset (i.e. no
		parameter entities, CDATA, marked sections, PIs, etc.)
		There is also a tutorial on structured documents in general.

	You may also find some of the SGML material useful, so long as you 
simply take the principles.  There is very little that can't be done in XML, 
so things like 'A gentle introduction to SGML' (see Robin Cover's page: for this and other introductory material might be
useful.  The gentle Intro isn't XML, but not far off.

if you remember that tags must be balanced and attribute values must be 
quoted, that's half of what you need to know for simple XML.

I would list the following ways of learning :-)  For most of these, look
at the FAQ for links.
	- reading the formal specs/BNF.  (Yes, this seems unlikely to most of
		us, but it's the way that a few people prefer.)
	- reading a book. (There aren't any yet :-(
	- looking at other people's examples.  There are a few referred to from
		the FAQ.
	- running parsers (on examples).  I find this very useful
	- trying to develop your own application.  You will need the parsers.
The uses of SGML (and therefore XML) are as varied as the uses of C.  So I 
suspect we shall get books like:
'Learn XML in 7 days and run a killer website'
'Financial applications in XML'
'XML for scientists and engineers' 
'Building XML applications'

Finally, do feel free to post to this group.  We have all been through this 
process and *I* created a fair amount of bandwidth on comp.text.sgml when I
was learning:-).  The community is extremely helpful.  It also brings *us*
benefits, because we realise what things people are likely to find difficult
and how to present our programs and examples.

Peter Murray-Rust, domestic net connection
Virtual School of Molecular Sciences

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