XSL Debate, Leventhal responds to Stephen Deach

Paul Prescod paul at prescod.net
Sat Jun 12 18:48:38 BST 1999

"Simon St.Laurent" wrote:
> I'm afraid that there _is_ widespread dissatisfaction with XSL in general.

Note that there is also widespread dissatisfaction with namespaces, RDF,
XLink and XML itself.

> I may just be a lightning rod for people who don't like XSL, but I've had
> at least 10 Java developers say they thought XSLT was a horrible mess,
> along with about 15 Web developers.  

I thought that you liked XSLT. Did you change your mind?

I think that it would be more productive to separate concerns about XSLT
from concerns about FOs. 

> The 'FOs Considered Harmful'
> discussions raised real problems, that most XSL enthusiasts seemed inclined
> to ignore rather than solve, and those arguments go to the heart of what
> the 'Web' is about.

Nobody solved the FOs considered harmful problems because they are
*insoluable*. You cannot force people to put semantic markup on the Web.
CSS can't force them to do so. CSS (by itself) doesn't even *allow* them
to. XSLT allows them to (just as the DOM does). In my mind that is a Good

> The best I can say for XSL is that the XSL community got off on the wrong
> foot by describing themselves as DSSSL-Lite and ignoring/denigrating CSS
> rather than focusing on shared vocabularies.  Transformation to XML+CSS
> (even a rather modified and extended CSS) rather than transformation to FOs
> of whatever vocabulary would have sidestepped 90% of these issues.
> Instead, they forged ahead on their own, making enemies rather than allies.

20/20 hindsight is great but don't we all as individuals have the
responsibility to move on to technical issues instead of talking about how
things should have been done three years ago? 

Please, let's talk about technology! XSL FOs are very much based on CSS
properties. Where do you see the conflicts occurring? What exactly is your
complaint? If we changed the prefix from FO: to CSS: would that address
your concern?

> XSL could have looked very different had cooperation between XSL and CSS
> begun earlier, but the core functionality you keep demanding would probably
> have worked about the same.

It would look very different *how*? What technical proposal are you

 Paul Prescod  - ISOGEN Consulting Engineer speaking for only himself

"Silence," wrote Melville, "is the only Voice of God." The assertion,
like its subject, cuts both ways, negating and affirming, implying both
absence and presence, offering us a choice; it's a line that the Society
of American Atheists could put on its letterhead and the Society of
Friends could silently endorse while waiting to be moved by the spirit
to speak. - Listening for Silence by Mark Slouka, Apr. 1999, Harper's

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