[ANN] Kludgey workarounds for IE and Netscape

Paul Prescod papresco at technologist.com
Thu Sep 10 17:07:00 BST 1998

Andy Dent wrote:
> Why can't a product like our report-writer take
> - XML describing content
> - XSL specifying layout
> and produce, for example, a report preview window on a Mac?
> After all, if you regard a browser, it's doing something very similar.

The result of an XSL process must be well-defined, right? So the most
logical thing to create as the result of the process is an XML document.
To me, your question is equivalent to "Why can't my car producing product
take an XML document describing content, and an XSL describing the
automobile to produce and generate the car?" Well, if XSL were an
automobile producing language, that would make sense, but it isn't, it is
an XML producing language.

> After all, if you regard a browser, it's doing something very similar.

The browser takes XML, pumps it through an XSL engine, receives an XML
result (according to a known DTD with formatting semantics) and renders
*that*. You can do the same with your report writer.

Of course, you can optimize the heck out of this process by not actually
linearizing the XML result, or even creating an XML tree, as long as it
looks the same to the XSL stylesheet author. This is what James was
getting at in his message.

> I agree that a clean design mandates some separate structured collections
> of objects between XML and output, but I don't see how they are necessarily
> either XML or anything closely related. For one thing, they are 'highly
> decorated' by comparison with the original XML.

Well, we could require the output to be PDF or PostScript or something,
but XML seems the most logical choice. The important thing is to recognize
that we do have to choose *something*.

 Paul Prescod  - http://itrc.uwaterloo.ca/~papresco

The past is inaccurate. Whoever lives long enough knows how much what he
had seen with his own eyes becomes overgrown with rumor, legend a
magnifying or belittling hearsay. "It was not like that at all!" -- 
he would like to exclaim, but will not, for they would have seen only 
his moving lips without hearing his voice. - Czeslaw Milosz (translated)

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