If you work with Flash for anything other than creating animations, sooner or later you are going to run smack into XML. But the fact that you have this book in your hands right now means you already know this.
XML has been touted as the great equalizer, allowing seamless data transfer across platforms and programs. According to some, XML was going to save the world. While the world still needs some work, XML has gone a long way to improve communications between all kinds of systems.
Recognizing this some years ago, Macromedia put XML support into Flash 5, and with each version, this feature has seen remarkable improvements. If you are doing any kind of Flash application development, or even just building a dynamic website in Flash, you need to know about XML. Why? Because if you are moving data around and you dont know about XML, I can guarantee that you are wasting a lot of time and energy dealing with that data. Another reason is that, if it hasnt already happened , someday youre going to be asked to do a project that uses XML, or apply for a job where they ask you about it.
In the companies I have worked with, we always ask about a persons experience with XML and Flash. All too often the answer from beginning (and even intermediate) Flash users is something like, XMLisnt that sort of like HTML?
So, you need to learn XML to work with Flash. Why not just go grab any other book on XML? Well, thats what I did when I first started. They usually have a single, brush-off chapter on the makeup of XML itself, and then you start wading through DTDs, schemas, namespaces, XSLT, style sheets, and CSS, most of which doesnt have much relevance to working with XML in Flashand most of which puts me to sleep. Moreover, the stuff you do need to know aboutthe Flash XML object and classes, Flash web service classes, XML sockets, and so forthis not going to be covered by a general XML book.
However, the book you have in your hands is specifically tailored to teach you exactly what you need to know about XML for Flash applications. You are going to get a solid grounding in what XML is, why it is so cool, and how to use it in Flash. Just about every aspect of using XML as it relates to Flash is covered. Additionally, there are some very useful, real-world applications of generating XML from Microsoft Office documents. Although this may seem a bit odd at first, I cant tell you how many times Ive been handed content from a client in a Word or Excel document and had to convert that to XML. (My solution has usually been to give it to an intern to convert by hand!)
As for the author, Ive known Sas for some time and can vouch for both her knowledge of the subject and for her ability to communicate and teach about it in a clear, concise , and understandable way. She has given presentations about XML at Flash conferences throughout the world, and despite the way she pronounces parse (parze) and data (dahta), she has been very well received. (Sorry, Sas, you didnt think I going to be able to resist that, did you?) In addition, she has given Flash training sessions; written tutorials, manuals, and documentation; and done technical editing for a number of books. And all thats in addition to the Flash development business she runs. In short, she knows her stuff, so listen to what she has to say!
So, fire up your computer, start Flash, get comfortable, and prepare to become a Flash XML expert!
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