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A discussion of the benefits of as a reference site for XML developers.

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Ed Tittel

Ed clues us in again on the wealth of information that resides at one of his favorite XML information sources.
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In an earlier tip on XSL Transforms entitled "Microsoft to the XSL(T)Rescue?" ( I cited Microsoft's XSLT Samples viewer as a nonpareil tool for "learning by seeing" XSL in action. In that same tip, I also mentioned Jiri Jirat's XML Tracer as another good tool for learning XSLT as well. In the past 8 months, I've had numerous occasions to turn to the site for information on lots of topics. Each time I've done so, I've come away more and more impressed with what this dedicated group of Czech open source programmers and XML whizzes have made available. To begin, here's what their site says about their organization's name (zvon):

"The name was proposed by Dr. Souckova from ICT Prague. We were looking for a name which would be in Czech, would contain only ASCII characters, and would have some connection with information exchange.

Zvon has two relevant meanings in Czech. Firstly, it means a bell, one of the first information devices.

And there is the second meaning, little humorous but even more fitting. Zvon is used as a name for a plunger, a device used to clear clogged pipes. XML and other techniques demonstrated at Zvon are tools that help clean information channels. Information pipes which connect people are filled with ballast of incompatible formats and programs which can be repaired only by an experienced plumber. We believe that our site will help to make this cleaning more efficient and affordable."

No matter what else you might want to say about this group, no one can consider them devoid of a keen sense of humor or self-deprecation!

That said, I have found this site to be a treasure trove of incredibly valuable information and would like to give it my highest recommendation. It is in my XML Stuff folder in my Web browser favorites. If you're a serious XML developer, it should probably be in yours, too.

For example, here's a short list of the categories available on this site, with a short list of the free tutorials, tools, examples, and more available:

  • Tutorials: CSS1, CSS2, DTD, Namespaces, RDF, Schematron, WML, XLink, XPath, XML, XPointer, and XSLT. These are all well written, very approachable (unlike some of the underlying W3C specifications) and chock-full of examples.
  • References: CML, CSS1 and 2, DOM1 and 2, Dublin Core 1.1, MathML, Namespaces, RSS 0.9, 1.0, and 1.1, Schematron, SOAP 1.1, SVG, UDDI, VoiceXML, WSDL 1.1, XHTML, XLink, XML Schemas, XPointer, XSL FO, XSLT, and much more.
  • Tools: JavaScript & DOM factories, all kinds of XML and related application functions, plus the XSLTracer tool mentioned in last December's Microsoft tip.
  • Downloads: All references and tutorials can be downloaded for independent operation on your desktop machine (most come in Windows and Unix forms).
  • Discussions: Zvon operates two pretty active mailing lists: one for its references, tutorials, and tools, the other for its active development projects (which currently consists of some interesting SOAP stuff).

All in all, I've found this site an incredibly useful source of tutorial and reference information. In fact, I wonder where these folks get the time to make a living as well as to develop these killer materials. If you're listing in any of the XML applications I've mentioned above, or the other markup languages and related tools and technologies, this site is definitely worth a visit!

Ed Tittel is a principal at LANWrights, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of LANWrights offers training, writing, and consulting services on Internet, networking, and Web topics (including XML and XHTML), plus various IT certifications (Microsoft, Sun/Java, and Prosoft/CIW).

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