XSL: Why?

John Cowan cowan at locke.ccil.org
Wed Sep 30 19:01:21 BST 1998

Simon St.Laurent wrote:

> This may be the result of my background in Web development, rather than
> SGML, but I can't see what's so intrinsically interesting about using a
> transformative rather than a descriptive style language that it rates a
> competing spec and has many people (notably Peter Flynn on XML-L a while
> back) waiting for XSL rather than working with CSS now.

Well, I think XSL should probably be split into two parts (and the
current state of the spec suggests that it has been, de facto):
the transformation language, which is useful in contexts having
nothing to do with styling, and an XML encoding of CSSn, for n >= 2.

For example, CSS2 alone cannot take a document with TITLE elements
in various divisions and generate a properly numbered and indented
TOC at the beginning of the document.  XSL, IIRC, can do that
by processing the tree twice.

OTOH, I see no reason why XSL should specify formatting objects
that are other than those of CSS.  A standard way to encode the
CSS language as XML, so that the transformation language can
generate it, would do all that is necessary.

John Cowan	http://www.ccil.org/~cowan		cowan at ccil.org
	You tollerday donsk?  N.  You tolkatiff scowegian?  Nn.
	You spigotty anglease?  Nnn.  You phonio saxo?  Nnnn.
		Clear all so!  'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)

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