This online course is 6 weeks long, followed by a 2-week period to complete the final exam (online, open book). Lessons are released on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week. You are not required to be online at any specific time. You register and pay on our website and instructions on how to access your course will be emailed to you immediately after registration.

The actual time commitment involved in completing any given lesson can vary significantly based on a number of factors including reading speed, familiarity with the topic, related experience, the amount of time spent completing optional assignments, and involvement with discussion board. For planning purposes we suggest setting aside 2 hours per lesson as a starting point.

Introduction to XML

Introduction to XML

XML is today's most popular way to store and send information. In this course, you'll master the essentials of XML through easy-to-follow, real-world examples. Even if you've never tried computer programming, you'll discover how quickly you can learn to produce powerful "code."  And the biggest surprise is how much fun programming can be!

From the very first lesson, you'll dive in, creating your first XML document. You'll use one of the greatest bargains in computer programming—Microsoft's free yet powerful Visual Studio (VS) Express. Then you'll go on to learn the elements of programming: variables, loops, and branching. Using VS's full-featured design editor, you'll see how to build efficient, professional-looking user interfaces.

XML stores and transmits information for applications, but is also widely used with Internet browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer. You'll learn methods for formatting XML so it looks great on Web pages using cascading style sheets and XSL. And you'll explore all the main XML techniques—XPath, XSL, schemas, namespaces, DOM, and SAX. You'll practice using XML to search, manipulate, validate, and merge XML files. We'll also work with SVG, XML's drawing language for displaying graphics like charts, drawings, and diagrams.

Finally, you'll deepen your understanding of XML and programming by transforming the cookbook program into two equally useful programs. First is an all-purpose quiz that will help anyone practice for any kind of test—geography, driver's test, whatever. And the second program is a coin-collection scrapbook with over a dozen fields of information (and optional photographs) for each coin. This program, too, can be easily modified to manage any kind of collection—stamps, rocks, baseball cards, anything.

When you've finished this course, you'll also understand how XML simplifies computer programming, and you'll have built a surprisingly sophisticated cookbook program that displays, modifies, searches, imports, and deletes recipes stored in XML format. It's your first step toward writing custom programs or furthering your career!

Week 1 Wednesday - Lesson 1

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.

Week 1 Friday - Lesson 2

Mastering the Basics of XML Documents
Let's explore the rest of the fundamentals of XML. We'll compare XML and HTML and examine the main similarities and differences between the two languages. And we'll look at adding comments and attributes in XML. When we've finished with those fundamentals, we'll begin to create our cookbook project, using the Visual Studio (VS) we discussed in our first lesson together.

Week 2 Wednesday - Lesson 3

Understanding Computer Programming
Today's lesson is all about programming. We'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. And 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!

Week 2 Friday - Lesson 4

Formatting XML With Cascading Style Sheets
It's time to take control of your XML formatting. In this lesson, we'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. And finally, you'll add code to the cookbook program that displays a recipe's instructions when the user clicks its title.

Week 3 Wednesday - Lesson 5

Formatting With XSL
This lesson introduces an important XML feature: XSL, or Extensible Style Sheet Language. Today you'll learn to present raw data attractively and efficiently in browsers using XSL style sheets. You'll explore transforming your XML data by sorting its elements alphabetically and then displaying them in a table as a numbered list. And you'll also learn how to add a search feature to your cookbook project.

Week 3 Friday - Lesson 6

Searching With XPath
Today we'll 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.

Week 4 Wednesday - Lesson 7

Transforming XML With XSLT
If you've been wanting to know more about XSLT, today's 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. And 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.

Week 4 Friday - Lesson 8

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.

Week 5 Wednesday - Lesson 9

Exploring XML Graphics
In this lesson, you'll learn to store and display XML graphics. First, we'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, we'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.

Week 5 Friday - Lesson 10

Managing Namespaces
Today we'll 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!

Week 6 Wednesday - Lesson 11

Creating a Homework Quiz Project
We're going to look at two related programs today—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 in this lesson, creating practice quizzes for students or anyone facing a test.

Week 6 Friday - Lesson 12

Creating a Coin Collection Program
In our final lesson, we'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!

Programming experience is not required, just an interest in finding out how easy and fun programming can be!

Microsoft's free Visual Studio Express with Update 3 for Windows Desktop 2013 or 2012 versions, and Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8. You'll install this Visual Studio Express software during Lesson 1. (Students using Visual Studio 2010 for pre-Windows 7 computers will be supported in the Discussion Areas.)

Note: This course is not suitable for Macintosh users unless you have a Windows emulator such as Parallels installed to run the Windows OS on your Mac OS X machine.
Course Details
This course is fully online, you require internet access and an email account. The course duration is 6 weeks, followed by a 2-week period to complete the final exam (online, open book). Lessons are released on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, for a total of 12. You are not required to be online at any specific time.

In addition to the specific lesson content, there is a discussion board with each lesson and often there is an optional assignment to apply the learning.

Following each lesson, there is a short multiple choice quiz. Your score on these quizzes does not count towards the final mark but completing these helps solidify your learning as well as prepare you for the final exam.

The final exam is an open-book, multiple choice exam and you need to achieve a minimum of 65% on the final exam to pass the course. There is only one opportunity to pass the exam. A certificate of completion from Ed2Go is available for printing immediately upon successful completion of the course and a certificate from the University of Waterloo will be emailed typically 1-2 weeks later.

Many of the Ed2Go courses are eligible towards the various online certificates offered by WatSPEED.

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