Whats Next

It's hard to stop when you really get going. New ideas will start to flow, and you will be anxious to test (and most likely implement) them right away. This chapter has only scratched the surface of what's possible with the technology known as XML. You learned here what XML is and how it is structured. While HTML consists of markup tags that define how the information should be formatted for display in a web browser, XML allows you to invent your own tags in order to define and describe data stored in a wide range of documents. XML will supply you with numerous ways to accomplish a specific task. Because XML is stored in plain text files, it can be read by many types of applications, independent of the operating system or hardware. This chapter has shown you how to perform many tasks with XML and Excel together. You've learned how to transform data from XML to HTML and from one XML format to another. You explored the ADO recordset methods suitable for working with XML programmatically and saw how to send data to the web server from an Excel worksheet. You were introduced to XML data islands and XSL stylesheets. All of these new methods and techniques that you've studied here will need time to sink in. XML is not like VBA. It is not very independent. It needs many supporting technologies to assist it in its work. So do not despair if you don't understand something right away. Learning XML requires learning many other new concepts (like XSLT, XPath, schemas, etc.) at the same time. Take XML step by step by experimenting with it. The time that you invest studying this new technology will not be in vain. XML is here to stay, and future versions of Excel are bound to offer even better integration with XML than the current 2002 version. Here are three main reasons why you should really consider XML:

■ XML separates content from presentation. This means that if you are planning to design any web pages, you no longer need to make changes to your HTML files when the data changes. Because the data is kept in separate files, it's easy to make modifications.

■ XML is perfect for sharing and exchanging data. This means that you no longer have to worry if your data needs to be processed by a system that's not compatible with yours. Because all systems can work with text files (and XML documents are simply text files), you can share and exchange your data without a headache.

■ XML can be used as a database. This means that you no longer need a database system to have a database. What a great value!

The appendixes describe how to work with and program Excel special features.

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