What makes this book valuable as a reference and 'cookbook' is the examples, stylistic approaches that are based on sound software engineering practices, and excellent use of illustrations to reinforce complex concepts, such as subexpressions, path directions and lexical elements of the XSLT family.
Another point in the book's favor is the thorough coverage of all aspects of XSLT, from obvious solutions and advice, to highlighting subtle nuances and 'gotchas' that developers will encounter. The author does an effective job of transferring his knowledge in the form of the book to readers, and is the main reason why this book is an important companion to developers at all skill levels. Given the growing use of XML and related protocols - especially the XSLT sub family - this book is an important addition to the body of knowledge and is one professional tool that you should have on your desk or at least within reach.
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This book focuses on the details of how XSLT in particular can be used to mold information on the fly. The author breaks the standard apart into digestible chapters that cover, say, "contextual formatting" and "sorting." The content is fast moving and demands a technical reader who is comfortable with complexity. Those who are new to XML technologies should pick up a general tutorial prior to tackling this book.
Along with text explanations of all of the magic that XSLT and XSL can do, the author uses code snippets and numerous graphical diagrams to illustrate information processing, layout, and tree navigation. These visual elements add much to the explanation of what otherwise would be abstract concepts indeed.
The author addresses head-on the fact that much of XSLT's job today is to turn XML data into HTML-formatted documents that are compatible with the current batch of browsers. There is plenty of focus in this book on how that is done, but the chief purpose remains the exploration of the powerful transformation and formatting features that the XSL standards provide. --Stephen W. Plain