A new session of each course opens each month, allowing you to enroll whenever your busy schedule permits!
How does it work? Once a session starts, two lessons will be released each week, for the six-week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.
Keep in mind that the interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes 2 weeks after each lesson is released, so you’re encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
The Final Exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the Final Exam has been released, you will have 2 weeks plus 10 days to complete the Final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.
Lesson 01 - Creating Your First XML Document
In this first lesson, you'll install and personalize one of the greatest bargains in computer programming—Microsoft's free, yet powerful, Visual Studio (VS) Express. After decades of fine-tuning, the VS programming suite is widely considered one of the most efficient ways to communicate with computers. You'll use the VS XML editor to create your first XML document. (The editor shows you any mistakes and even writes half the code for you!) And by the end of the lesson, you'll discover that programming can be both easy and fun. You'll be on your way to using XML in your personal projects or in your career.
Lesson 02 - Mastering the Basics of XML Documents
In this lesson, you'll explore the rest of the fundamentals of XML. You'll compare XML and HTML and examine the main similarities and differences between the two languages and look at adding comments and attributes in XML. When you're finished with those fundamentals, you'll begin to create a cookbook project using Visual Studio.
Lesson 03 - Understanding Computer Programming
This lesson is all about programming. You'll explore the most common programming techniques, including creating variables, setting up loops, and telling the program how to make decisions by branching to alternative sections of code. You'll also learn how to use the editor's Design window to align and resize controls. The goal is to make your program's user interface look clean and professional. Finally, you'll write your first serious XML programming—going through your cookbook document one recipe at a time (looping) and copying each recipe's title into a listbox so your users can select whatever recipes they want to see. During this lesson, you'll discover just how much fun programming can be!
Lesson 04 - Formatting XML With Cascading Style Sheets
It's time to take control of your XML formatting. In this lesson, you'll focus on ways to make XML look good when people view it in browsers. You'll specify exactly how you want your XML data displayed. You'll create style rules about color, position, size, and typeface (font) to make your content look great on a web page. Finally, you'll add code to the cookbook program that displays a recipe's instructions when the user clicks its title.
Lesson 05 - Formatting With XSL
This lesson introduces an important XML feature: XSL, or Extensible Style Sheet Language. You'll learn to present raw data attractively and efficiently in browsers using XSL style sheets. Then, you'll explore transforming your XML data by sorting its elements alphabetically and displaying them in a table as a numbered list. You'll also learn how to add a search feature to your cookbook project.
Lesson 06 - Searching With XPath
This lesson will discuss the fundamentals of XPath, XML's query language. You'll see how to search through the data in an XML document to locate a particular element, copy the element into a listbox, and then delete it from the XML document. You'll also practice using two invaluable learning and debugging tools: breakpoints and single-stepping.
Lesson 07 - Transforming XML With XSLT
If you've been wanting to know more about XSLT, this is your chance to learn how to use it. You'll find out how to use XSLT to transform XML structures and how to change an XML file into CSV—comma separated values, a format used to store tables like spreadsheets. You'll practice other transformations such as adding, deleting, and renaming elements in an XML document. You'll also see how to use the Visual Studio editor's XSLT features. Finally, you'll add a needed feature to the cookbook project: refreshing the list of titles.
Lesson 08 - Validating With Schemas
This lesson shows you how to make sure that an XML document is valid. In other words, you'll compare an XML file to a schema file that describes the XML's correct structure and the types of data it must contain. Validation goes beyond the simple concept of a "well-formed" document, which only examines simple errors like missing end tags. But because creating validation files by hand can be complicated and tedious, you'll use the automatic schema generator built into VS. Then, you'll write a custom VB validator program of your own. And finally, you'll make the cookbook project even easier to use by writing code that adds new recipes with one click of an Import button.
Lesson 09 - Exploring XML Graphics
In this lesson, you'll learn to store and display XML graphics. First, you'll work with SVG, an XML format that specializes in creating lines, shapes, color, special text effects, and geometric drawings. SVG is especially useful when you want to display charts, drawings, or diagrams. Then, you'll explore how to display bitmaps, which are photographic images stored on the hard drive already completely rendered. Last but not least, you'll learn some techniques that radically improve the cookbook program's UI.
Lesson 10 - Managing Namespaces
This lesson will focus on namespaces—the XML technique that avoids ambiguity when two element tag names are identical but refer to different things. This happens when you try to merge two or more XML documents: A grocery store means one thing by the tag apple, but a computer store means something else. You'll learn how to attach a unique web page address (a URL) to a set of tags to avoid this name collision problem. You'll also see how programmers use namespaces in other areas of computing, such as separating commands into individual code libraries. Then you'll add a feature to the cookbook program that allows the user to modify a recipe and automatically save the changes to the XML file!
Lesson 11 - Creating a Homework Quiz Project
In this lesson, you'll look at two related programs—one that translates user input into XML, and another that displays the XML data in the form of a quiz. You'll learn how to use both programs, creating practice quizzes for students or anyone facing a test.
Lesson 12 - Creating a Coin Collection Program
In the final lesson, you'll explore the two main ways to manage XML data—DOM and SAX. DOM loads the whole XML document into the computer's memory all at once, permitting random-access to the data. SAX, the alternative approach, streams data, leaving only a little in memory at a time. SAX is most useful when you're dealing with immense XML files, but SAX's sequential access (it moves forward-only) makes modifying the XML structure more difficult. You'll also transform the cookbook program into a coin collection program—a searchable notebook that can even display photos of each coin. You'll see how to reuse basic code to create any kind of XML data management program—a stamp collection, family scrapbook, you name it!