Fans of my Remedial XML series may remember that I mentioned a Web site in the final article called XMLPitStop, giving it about one paragraph of space. I’ve since revisited XMLPitStop and want to correct my grievous error by providing you a formal introduction: This is one site that’ll really fill up your tank, if you’ll pardon the pun. In terms of sheer content, I’ve not run across a better XML resource in a long time.
Self-proclaimed geek offers free resources
David Silverlight, an independent software developer and teacher, who calls himself the "head geek," started XMLPitStop. His aim is to provide free XML and .NET development resources to developers. The site is, for the most part, a simple link warehouse, but there’s much more information there than is evident at first glance—so much, in fact, that XMLPitStop can be rather intimidating. The bulk of the content is organized into several categories: Resources, Tools, and XML Examples. You could literally spend weeks reading through the information the site categorizes for you, and the only thing missing is a search feature to help you locate specific items.
XML samples and resources galore
The resources section categorizes links into a long list of Web sites on a variety of technologies—ranging from XML and XSLT to SQL Server and XML patterns—all accessible from a set of tabs organized across the top of the frame. Unfortunately, a few of the tabs appear to be broken, leading you not to a list of resources as you’d expect, but back to the site’s front page instead. Still, there are plenty of links under the working categories. For example, the XML tab by itself contains over 230 links to XML tutorials and informational Web sites. The only problem, and this is true of all the categories, is that these links are stacked on top of each other down a very long page. You’ll need to do a lot of scrolling to find specific topics.
Under Tools, you’ll find brief information about page after page of XML tools, also broken out into different subcategories: XSLT, XPath, and Web Services to name a few. This list includes XML editors and utilities, and it sports more than a few programming tools. There are frankly so many tools listed here that I gave up counting; suffice it to say, you’ll find out about a lot of tools you never knew existed by browsing this list.
If you’re the type of person who learns by taking apart a working example, you’ll find yourself in heaven in the XML examples section, which groups links to examples from a variety of sources into one area. There, you’ll find examples from Microsoft and the Web services consulting firm Architag International. Mixed in with these are a healthy number of homegrown examples, either compiled by the "head geek" himself or donated from XML users’ group meetings. Once again, there are simply too many examples to count, and unfortunately, they tend to be arranged vertically on long pages.
But wait, there’s more
Although the XML resources are all great, that’s not all you’ll find at XMLPitStop. Looking for a new book? The head geek personally recommends a few in the books section; he seems to favor Wrox Press. How about a job? Check out the Tech Engine Career Center (you can get to it from the Jobs link), where you’ll find job listings for a wide variety of positions all over the US. There could be some international positions here as well, but my three-minute tour of the jobs database didn’t turn any up. When you need a break from serious stuff, have a look at the innocuously named “Non-XML” section, where the head geek has preserved quite a few humorous photos, stories, and movies for posterity.
Although XMLPitStop puts a long list of XML resources at your fingertips, it simply isn’t organized as well as it could be. It’s as if the site has grown faster than its creator expected, and he gave up on categorizing everything. Even so, if you have the time to devote to locate something in particular, XMLPitStop won’t let you down.