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This book marks the intersection of two essential technologies for the Web and information services. XML, the latest and best markup language for self-describing data, is becoming the generic data packaging format of choice. Perl, which web masters have long relied on to stitch up disparate components and generate dynamic content, is a natural choice for processing XML. The shrink-wrap of the Internet meets the duct tape of the Internet.

More powerful than HTML, yet less demanding than SGML, XML is a perfect solution for many developers. It has the flexibility to encode everything from web pages to legal contracts to books, and the precision to format data for services like SOAP and XML-RPC. It supports world-class standards like Unicode while being backwards-compatible with plain old ASCII. Yet for all its power, XML is surprisingly easy to work with, and many developers consider it a breeze to adapt to their programs.

As the Perl programming language was tailor-made for manipulating text, Perl and XML are perfectly suited for one another. The only question is, "What's the best way to pair them?" That's where this book comes in.

0.1. Assumptions

This book was written for programmers who are interested in using Perl to process XML documents. We assume that you already know Perl; if not, please pick up O'Reilly's Learning Perl (or its equivalent) before reading this book. It will save you much frustration and head scratching.

We do not assume that you have much experience with XML. However, it helps if you are familiar with markup languages such as HTML.

We assume that you have access to the Internet, and specifically to the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN), as most of this book depends on your ability to download modules from CPAN.

Most of all, we assume that you've rolled up your sleeves and are ready to start programming with Perl and XML. There's a lot of ground to cover in this little book, and we're eager to get started.

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