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O'Reilly Author Applies Java and XSLT to Real-World Scenarios

September 13, 2001

Sebastopol, CA--HTML has been the workhorse of the Internet for so long, performing all kinds of roles that it was never meant to play, that we almost expect every new technology that bursts on the scene to do the same. The reality is that there are many powerful technologies that excel in doing just what they were meant to do. For example, Java gives us platform-independent code; XML gives us platform-independent data. They are two very different technologies that complement one another, rather than compete. "One weakness of Java is in its ability to process text," explains Eric M. Burke, author of Java and XSLT (O'Reilly, US $39.95). "For instance, Java may not be the best technology for merely converting XML files into another format, such as XHTML or Wireless Markup Language (WML). Using Java for such a task requires skilled programmers who understand APIs such as DOM, SAX, or JDOM." This is where Java and XSLT enter the picture.

XSLT, or Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations, transforms XML data into some other form, usually HTML, XHTML, or another XML format. As Burke explains, XSLT makes it possible to define clearly the roles of Java, XML, XSLT, and HTML. "Java is used for business logic, database queries and updates, and for creating XML data," says Burke. "The XML is responsible for raw data, while XSLT transforms the XML into HTML for viewing by a browser. A key advantage of this approach is the clean separation between the XML data and the HTML views."

Java and XSLT shows programmers how to effectively use XSLT in Java programs. The heart of the book demonstrates how to put XSLT to work programmatically--how to develop and debug applications that make use of transformations, how to optimize the performance of applications by using caching and compiled stylesheets, how to use XSLT and Java together to implement complex interactive web sites and wireless services, and many other useful techniques.

"Web applications are increasingly sophisticated, requiring more attention to quality application design rather than simply putting together HTML views," says Burke. "Particularly for larger development teams, XML, XSLT, and Java offer a good solution because of the separation between presentation, data, and behavior. A recurring theme throughout the book is the ability to modularize an application, assigning different pieces of the implementation to different developers."

Burke adds, "XSLT is not wildly popular right now because of performance concerns, and because the language is unfamiliar, but XSLT is important because it is the dominant transformation language for converting XML into other formats. It will become increasingly important as browsers begin to support XSLT, better XSLT editors appear, such as the newest version of XML Spy, and as more people learn XML and XSLT."

Java and XSLT was written for Java developers who are interested in practical solutions to problems. Although it includes a brief tutorial on XSLT, its primary focus is on the practical use of transformations in Java programs, ranging from standalone applications to servlets, rather than on learning XSLT or developing stylesheets. Readers will learn how to apply XSLT to develop a discussion forum, transform documents from one form into another, generate content for wireless devices, and a number of other situations. The book also covers several common XSLT processors and the TRAX API, and pays special attention to performance issues.

Brett McLaughlin, publisher of newInstance.com and author of Java & XML (O'Reilly, Second Edition, August 2001), says of Java and XSLT, "In the last few years, I've seen several books that talk about Java, and talk about XSLT. I'm thrilled that there is finally a book, 'Java and XSLT,' that covers these technologies, and does so in a way that will make even hard-core developers happy. I found everything from wireless to XHTML to EJBs; it never made it on my bookshelf, because I kept using the darned thing!"

Online Resources:

Java and XSLT
By Eric M. Burke
September 2001
ISBN 0-596-00143-6, 510 pages, $39.95 (US)

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