XSL Debate, Leventhal responds to Stephen Deach

Simon St.Laurent simonstl at simonstl.com
Mon Jun 14 15:43:36 BST 1999

At 08:23 PM 6/11/99 -0400, Jonathan Borden wrote:
>	Mess? why? Aside from the fact that declarative 'programming' can be a
>paradigm shift for those used to procedural programming. But that old
>argument aside, isn't there room for both styles? We have ECMAScript, Java,
>Python, PERL etc as common languages. Why not add XSLT? Diversity in
>languages is a Good Thing. I have used most major computer languages over
>the past 2 decades and support XSLT as a unique and useful addition to this

It's more than a paradigm shift affecting people, from what I've heard.
XSL lets you do a lot, but finding organizing principles to do it with
appears to be harder than perhaps it should be.  Perhaps this is just a
matter of time, or perhaps the problem is just that XSL is indeed ugly and
verbose and provides few hooks for developers used to working with other
Web technologies.

>	And the XSLT folks? What would you have them do? Do you believe:
>1) transformations are not important

In some cases, like transforming XML tables to SVG, it's great.  I'm not
convinced that it's important in every case, nor am I convinced that XSLT
is the 'right' way to handle transformations.

>2) procedural languages (e.g. ECMAScript+DOM) can handle transformations
>just fine.

Yep.  I got started in this area through Dynamic HTML, so I'm undoubtedly
biased, but this supposedly incredible need for XSL escapes me.

>3) DSSSL can be modified to better handle transformations

I haven't said one thing about DSSSL one way or the other.  If the SGML
community wants to invest further in DSSSL, that's great.  If not, it's not
anywhere near my problem.

>4) XSLT is just not a good way to transform (and if so please suggest

Ugly, verbose... perhaps useful in some situations, but hardly a crying
need when other tools that have been widely implemented are capable of
providing the same functionality.  

I think we've come back around to the root of the argument.  If you want to
continue, we can circle around a few more times.  I'm off to JavaOne, so
I'll only be able to circle sporadically for the next few days.

Simon St.Laurent
XML: A Primer / Building XML Applications
Inside XML DTDs: Scientific and Technical (July)
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