While it is widely believed that Apache offers some great open source projects and tools, I find myself losing track of what’s available and how can the tools can be used. This is especially true of XML projects. Builder.com has covered several of these tools. So if you need a quick digest of some of the more useful tools and how they work, check out the following articles.

Learn about some of the hot Apache XML projects
Several XML projects haunt the Apache radar, but you can get the scoop on four of the hottest ones in an article by Brian Schaffner. Schaffner gives you the skinny on AxKit, which is designed to be an XML application server; Xang; and Forrest, which provides an infrastructure to manage open source projects. Forrest works closely with Cocoon (discussed in the next section) and Maven.

Keeping it all wrapped up
Cocoon provides a Web publishing framework, and with some background in Java, XSLT, and XML, you can be up and running in no time. Cocoon’s claim to fame is its Separation of Concerns (SOC) design, which places a clear demarcation between the four layers of Web development: content, management, design, and style. By having this separation, developers, graphic artists, and content producers can focus on their individual areas without worrying about other areas. If you want to find out more about Cocoon, read the article “Up and running with Cocoon.” In it, Harshad Oak discusses Extensible Server Pages (XSP) and Tomcat integration, as well as other components that you’ll need to test-drive Cocoon.

Some Jelly for your XML picnic
Jelly provides you with an XML scripting engine whose extendable tool can handle various types of tasks—from writing SQL scripts to backing up Ant builds. Its many built-in libraries offer a great deal of functionality. James Birchfield’s article, “Jelly offers component-rich XML scripting,” gives you the complete Jelly rundown, plus some code to play with.

One of the best uses of Jelly is with the XML-based Java build tool Ant. Jelly scripts can access Ant’s complete library, so you can easily write an optional backup script that can access all of Ant’s libraries.

As an alternative to UNIX-based tools such as Make, Ant provides a platform-independent means to deploy Java applications. You can find out how to get started building applications with Ant by reading Jamie Scheinblum’s article “Ant brings pure Java portability, flexibility to key build tool options.” If you want to move beyond customized tasks in Ant, check out Scheinblum’s article on writing customized tasks with Ant. You’ll get the scoop on advanced topics such as BuildExceptions and working with properties.

Where to go for more information
If you need a list of XML Apache projects, check out the list at the Apache Web site. If you’d like to write an article about the usefulness of one of the projects, contact the Builder editors.