HTML - xml data islands

I am designing a web app and I intent to embed data on an xml island so that I can dynamically render it on an HTML table on the client-side based on options the users will select.

I have the broad concepts, but I need pointers on how to use DOM in navigating my xml. And how to update my xml island possibly for posting back to the server?

Please any links to online resources or a quick advice will be very appreciated.

NB: I understand most of the dynamic HTML concepts and server and client side stuff, so don't shy being very technical in your response:)


In W3C HTML there are no XML data islands (unless you're referring to external XML file linked via frames loaded using Javascript), but you can re-use HTML elements and insert metadata in class, title (if you care about HTML4 validity), data-* (HTML5) or your custom attributes.

For DOM navigation you've got DOM Core, like element.childNodes, .nextSibling, .getAttribute(), etc.

DOM can be verbose and tedious to use (e.g. when looking for elements in DOM you have to be careful to skip text nodes), so there are JS libraries like jQuery and Prototype built on top of it that offer more convenient API.

If you intend to a lot of DOM transformations, then Javascript API for XPath and XSLT processor will be handy.

What you describe can be done with XML.

However, I think it would be much easier if you used JSON instead of XML. That way, you can directly work with a Javascript object, which is friendlier than navigating XML DOM. Then you can send the serialized JSON form to the server using the JSON library

Ajax Patterns has some good examples for using data islands:

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