Frontier as a scalable XML repository (was Re: Is XML dead al ready or what?)

Mark Birbeck Mark.Birbeck at
Sun Jan 31 13:54:40 GMT 1999

Dave WIner wrote:
> I'm going to try to get Paul Howson to join the discussion here. 
> Listen to what
> he says. He has strong opinions about XSL for example.
> If you read one thing about Frontier, I hope you read Howson's site. I
> believe he comes closest to speaking your language.

This makes your case weaker Dave, I'm afraid, if you enlist Paul's
'insights'. Part of his site seems ill-informed to me - criticising XSL
for using a 'renamed JavaScript, called ECMCAScript', as if it was XSL
that renamed it!! - and part of it sort of misses the point about what
is so exciting about storing documents as XML.

To set the scene: we are about to launch the online version of a
client's magazine that has all the data and articles stored in an object
structure, and all input and output is in XML. The stylesheets - in that
really complicated XSL format that Paul has 'strong feelings about' :-)
- are also stored there, because after all they are just XML. Then you
just merge the XML with the XSL to get whatever you want, whether it's
Web TV, handheld devices, headlines on GSM phones and pagers, or things
as yet uninvented.

Well that's not that radical, I'm sure all you XML fans are saying, but
Paul's view seems to be way behind this:
- For a start, he talks of formatting within the XML document -
paragraphs that are bold, etc. - yet to get the most leverage from your
data your should add ALL style later, even seemingly obvious innocuous
things like 'emphasis'.
- More significantly, he talks of leaving the complicated world of
formatting to 'other tools', yet we need all this now. How do we get
this magazine onto a hundred and one different devices and formats?

One final thing is that our client - as many publishers do - creates all
of their documents in Quark. We then process them to make XML and then
import them. Quark have said that they will use XML in the next release
- so our circle is complete! There will be no distinction between the
web/handheld/auto PC/print and whatever else versions of the document -
they will all be separate stylesheets.

For this reason, we NEED XSL in 'all its generality' Paul.


Mark Birbeck
Managing Director
Intra Extra Digital Ltd.
39 Whitfield Street
t: 0171 681 4135
e: Mark.Birbeck at

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