First experiences with XSL

Brent Benson bwb at
Fri Jan 30 16:03:02 GMT 1998

>I've downloaded MSXSL and used it to generate HTML for a couple of
>types, successfully but with a certain amount of frustration caused by
>lack of diagnostics when I got things wrong, and (b) limited
>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 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
>- 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
>about user preferences from an external database.
>I have yet to spot any disadvantages

Of course, writing a program to solve the problem is more flexible than
the declarative approach of writing XSL rules.  This additional
flexibility, though, comes at the cost of making it less accessible to
non-programmers and not fitting as well into a generalized framework of
declarative document description languages.

Many of your complaints about msxsl seem to be with the tool, rather than
the language itself.  There is no reason why such a tool should not be
able to give good diagnostics.

I'm a real fan of domain-specific, declarative languages like XSL, but I
haven't done enough XSL rule writing to see if the designers got it right.


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