First experiences with XSL

len bullard cbullard at
Sun Feb 1 17:16:07 GMT 1998

Betty Harvey wrote:
> On Sat, 31 Jan 1998, len bullard wrote:
> >
> > Can anyone show that XSL (if indeed, a Turing complete language) is any
> > easier
> > than Java?  XSL is a programmig language and there are far more mortals
> > (programmers in some cases) who understand and can easily use Java than
> > XSL/DSSSL.  Why?  Object-oriented programming is the rule
> > not the exception in programming communities.  JavaScript has a
> > tremendous
> > advantage in that stepping up to Java from JavaScript incurs no
> > shocks of syntax.  It is an easy transition.
> >
> Len:
>         My experience is it is XSL is easier.  I was able to
> take the XSL tutorial and create a simple example of an
> XSL stylesheet.
>         If you have Microsoft Explorer 4.0 or higher you can test my first
> example at:
>         My initial thoughts are that it doesn't do everything I
> want it to do - but I am going to hold judgement until the XSL
> standard becomes more stable.  Initially - I am impressed and
> looking forward to what XSL will offer us - thank goodness
> someone is not only thinking about style and behavior but
> moving towards a standard implementation effort - what
> FOSI tried to do 8 years ago.
> Betty

That is good to hear.  Yet, the XSL/XLL discussion to me 
has the feel of attending a summer stock presentation of 
Hamlet:  famous lines all carefully memorized, spoken 
thousands of times before, and Hamlet still dies in the 
last scene.  Don't take it as a "I don't like XSL" but 
a cautionary, "we know our parts so well we can sleepwalk 
through them."  So yes, compelling examples are needed.  
The FOSI perished in complexity, HyTime has almost met 
the same fate, and DSSSL never got out of the gate before 
events and technology have overtook it. 

We have to meet the criticism that XML technology is a 
solution looking for a problem.  We need something better 
than the same defenses we presented for SGML/HyTime/DSSSL 
to the same criticism.

I sense a deflation in the enamouring of the Web.  Joe Q 
Public has discovered the anemia of the infrastructure.  
Still, experimental team efforts such as VRMLDream which 
will demonstrate a puppeteering technology for virtual 
theatre has promise.  For these applications, it is 1945 
and each TV network is a world unto itself.  These groups 
see the Internet as a broadcasting medium.   Maybe Clinton 
will survive his current problems and deliver on that 
"1000X the bandwidth" promise.  There is little doubt that 
replacing the Internet infrastructure is needed ASAP.

Business interest is stable, yet the groups who control 
the corporate standards are from printing backgrounds 
and marketing.  They see the Internet as a publishing 
medium.  They tend to be underwhelmingly technically 
talented, aversive to technology whose practicioners they
do not control, and able to restrict the application at 
the heart of the matter:  funding.  While the true 
practicioner seeks to expand capability, the purse stringers seek to 
restrict it and successfully.  It is necessary to look 
at the whole of the framework and how that can best meet 
business needs, in content developement, maintenance, 
production, and distribution.  The architectures must 
be sold accordingly.  (one rung up the CALS spiral).

Beware jargon; beware complex examples, 
beware precise description that fails to engender  
imaginative application.  The hook is the imagination. 
Sink the hook to reel in the fish.  Overall efficiency  
is becoming the primary issue given the size 
and bugginess of the framework.  Building  
evermore compelling and sustainable content is still 
the goal.  Just remember that many many groups do not 
believe that putting long lifecycle information assets on 
the WWW is a good thing to do.  Find out why. </crystalball>



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