First experiences with XSL

Sharon Adler sca at
Fri Jan 30 15:52:22 GMT 1998


As I write this, the XSL WG is 2/3 through its first official meeting.  The
Microsoft code does not represent the "Final" XSL but the srawman of some of
the facilities of XSL.  The lack of diagnostics/limited functionality of a
partial prototype implementation is not any indication of the functionality
or capability of a style language, nor any final implementation. Of course
you can accomplish what you wanted in Java.  Any hacker can do anything they
want in code, but what about the rest of the world's humans.

Please don't use the XSL prototype if it is not suitable for you to play
around with, but give us a chance to create a workable standard.

Thank you.

Sharon Adler
Co-chair, XSL WG

At 03:05 PM 1/30/98 -0000, Michael Kay wrote:
>I've downloaded MSXSL and used it to generate HTML for a couple of document
>types, successfully but with a certain amount of frustration caused by (a)
>lack of diagnostics when I got things wrong, and (b) limited functionality.
>I've now implemented the same thing without XSL: I wrote an MSXML
>application in Java that does a recursive walk down the document tree and
>calls a registered "handler" class to process each element type. I added a
>number of helper methods such as isFirstOfType() to allow the handlers to
>get information about their context more easily.
>Here is an example of one of the handlers (for the XML element tagged
>class SPEECHHandler extends HTMLNodeWriter {
>    public void handleElement(ElemNode e) {
>        if (e.isFirstOfType())
>            System.out.println("<HR>");
>        e.walkChildren();
>        System.out.println("<BR>");
>        if (e.isLastOfType())
>            System.out.println("<HR>");
>    }
>I have to report:
>- the element handlers looked very similar to the XSL rules
>- the number of DTD-specific lines of code was identical (106 in each case!)
>- it was far easier to debug
>- you can do very many things that you can't do in XSL, like sorting the
>children of a node according to some attribute value, or getting information
>about user preferences from an external database.
>I have yet to spot any disadvantages. I haven't looked at performance or
>footprint, but I can't see any intrinsic reason why XSL should be smaller or
>faster. (Currently some of the methods like isLastOfType() are very
>inefficient due to the limited navigation capabilities in MSXML. I could
>speed it up if I built my own tree!).
>Any XSL enthusiasts want to prove me wrong?
>Regards, Mike Kay
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