Using XML in Flash CS3/AS3 - Page 1
       by kirupa  |  17 July 2007

One of the major changes in AS3 is how you deal with XML content. While a lot of similarities carried over from the AS2 days, there are new time-saving niceties in AS3 that make working with XML files easier. One of the introductions is Ecmascript for XML, known as E4X for short. In this tutorial, you will gradually learn more XML tricks as you try to parse the various parts of the following XML data:

Example of XML Document 

This tutorial attempts to cover a lot of ground, so I've provided a short table of contents to give you an idea of what to expect:

  1. The XML Structure
  2. Loading an XML File
  3. Reading the XML Data

    1. XML and XMLList
    2. Accessing Data Directly
    3. Accessing Data Indirectly
    4. Calling all Children()
    5. Reading Attributes
  4. Filtering Values

    1. Filtering Node Values
    2. Filtering Attribute Information

As you can see, there are a lot of topics that you'll learn how to juggle in Flash. Let's start at the top and being by first describing what an XML file is.

The XML Structure
An XML file is essentially a tree with various branches and leaves commonly known as nodes and values. Our above XML data is no exception. The following diagram shows one way of representing our sample XML data:

XML Data

Think of each box in the above image as a node. We have our main root node called Books, and that root node has four child nodes called Book. The Book node contains the ISBN information, and information stored directly on the node is called an attribute. You can also store information in your child nodes, and the book's title and author information is stored in child nodes aptly called title and author.

This type of a hierarchy, like all XML data, is essentially a tree. In the computer world, trees are great because they help you to categorize information all the way from a broad overview at the top of the tree to the details at the leaves. From the above data, you can easily see that the parent node (Books) sets the agenda for what the child nodes (Book, Title, Author) will follow.

Before the end of this tutorial, you will learn several ways of accessing all of the node and attribute information. Before you can access the data, you need to load the XML data first. Let's look at how to do that on the next page.

Onwards to the next page!

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