Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Review: XML Weekend Crash Course

I have spent a lot of money on Programming books, even since graduating from school. They are one of my favorite hobbies. Very often, for various reasons I don't finish or get a lot out of them, BUT I've never had an experience that made me want to write a negative review of one, until now. I am so disgusted with this book that I decided to at least get the word out.

XML Weekend Crash Course is a book that will surely make anyone that makes the mistake of buying it, as I have, crazy. I picked it up because a long time ago I got a Java Weekend Crash Course book that wasn't too bad. After I finished it I knew enough Java to be dangerous, well, almost enough. Unfortunately, the age of this book and bad or lazy planning by the authors makes it more than obsolete, it is a waste of time.

I realize that this book was published in 2001, I know they could not foresee everything about this programming language, but you do not set up more than half your book based on one piece of software. Of course there are other ways to go further with XML without the Instant Saxon software they tout and insist you must use. It is included on the disk, but doesn't work and is not supported(the web site they send you to is vague and the downloads you may use there are confusing and not helpful). Now I will be looking elsewhere for that information when I bought this book for that reason, and all of the fragments of code they have had me updating, waste. The SUPPORT Web Site is non-existent, and the disk harder to access than a 1999 magazine demo disk.

It starts out pretty good, but then they begin doing more complicated code that apparently needs to use an application called Instant Saxon, for reasons which I now do not know. Of course, I might have known if only they had stayed with the 'program'. As somewhat of an experienced reader of these types of books, I realize that this type of work is quickly being replaced by well-thought out, creative franchises like Head First and Pragmatic Books, but this one kind of stung.

I mean, it's like they set me up. 233 pages in and they drop the ball like that. In even a couple more days retrospect since my initial writing of this, I have decided that I was most angry because it was moving so good a the time, not at all like a poorly, lazily written work, then WHAM. It's like getting kicked out of the car at midnight, when you've already gotten to third base.

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