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1.2. What's Important?

Once you've accepted that XML can help you out, the next question is what part of it you need. As I mentioned earlier, there are literally hundreds of applications of XML, and trying to find the right one is not an easy task. I've got to pick out twelve or thirteen key topics from these hundreds, and manage to make them all applicable to you; not an easy task! Fortunately, I've had a year to gather feedback from the first edition of this book, and have been working with XML in production applications for well over two years now. That means that I've at least got an idea of what's interesting and useful. When you boil all the various XML machinery down, you end up with just a few categories.

1.2.3. XML-Based Applications

In addition to APIs built specifically for working with a document or its content, there are a number of applications built on XML. These applications use XML directly or indirectly, but are focused on a specific business process, like displaying stylized web content or communicating between applications. These are all examples of XML-based applications that use XML as a part of their core behavior. Some require extensive XML knowledge, some require none; but all belong in discussions about Java and XML. I've picked out the most popular and useful to discuss here.

First, I'll cover web publishing frameworks, which are used to take XML and format them as HTML, WML (Wireless Markup Language), or as binary formats like Adobe's PDF (Portable Document Format). These frameworks are typically used to serve clients complex, highly customized web applications. Next, I'll look at XML-RPC, which provides an XML variant on remote procedure calls. This is the beginning of a complete suite of tools for application communication. Building on XML-RPC, I'll describe SOAP, the Simple Object Access Protocol, and how it expands upon what XML-RPC provides. Then you'll get to see the emerging players in the web services field by examining UDDI (Universal Discovery, Description, and Integration) and WSDL (Web Services Descriptor Language) in a business-to-business chapter. Putting all these tools in your toolbox will make you formidable not only in XML, but in any enterprise application environment.

And finally, in the last chapter I'll gaze into my crystal ball and point out what appears to be gathering strength in the coming months and years, and try and give you a heads-up on what is worth monitoring. This should keep you ahead of the curve, which is where any good developer should be.

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