XSL and the semantic web

Ketil Z Malde ketil at ii.uib.no
Tue Jun 22 10:32:29 BST 1999

Paul Prescod <paul at prescod.net> writes:

>> But haven't you been arguing for providing FO's _at_the_server_?  If
>> you are suggesting transforming at the client, then you are
>> _favouring_ the semantic web!  I am really confused now.

> We are all in favor of the semantic web. It's motherhood and apple pie.

Glad to hear it!  Of course, the web doesn't get a whole lot more
semantic, just because people use XML.

>  a) every server-side technology since CGI has allowed people to dumb down
> their information including but not limited to the DOM, 

Obviously, anybody can make up meaningless XML-tags.

>  b) dumbing down information is an information provider's right in a
> capitalist society.

Yeah, although chances are that they don't want to, in most cases.
After all, they chose to publish to a public medium, normally, they
wouldn't put out the information at all, if its semantics were
important secrets.  Normally.

> Therefore the fact that XSL *can* be used in this way is irrelevant.

Then why are we having this argument?

If you look at the web today, a lot of semantics are lost, and at
least as much due to incompetence and ignorance, as to poor technical
solutions.  "Web designers" are only concerned with building pages
that look good on their own screens, in their own eyes, using their
favorite brand of browser - and woe unto you if you have a small/large 
monitor, are color blind, have poor vision, use a text interface, etc

Technology doesn't destroy semantic content, people do.

Thus I think it is very important that pushing semantically rich data
becomes the norm, and that people who want to hide the semantic markup
are the ones who have to go out of their way.  We need tools and
documents showing how to do it "right", and let those who perceive a
need worry about how to do it any other way - at least, then they'd
have to think things through.

Personally, I worry about a future XML'ized web where documents are
XML documents, each with their own (probably implicit) DTD, and silly
style sheets matching XML tags like <pink.text.on.green> with the
appropriate (or as it were, inappropriate) fomatting.

Ideally, documents would follow a few DTDs - or at least DTDs derived
from a handful of "base" DTDs, and carry links to style sheets of
various types or perhaps rendering applets in java - which I could
of course optionally override for specific needs.  I'm not holding my

Okay, I guess this was a bit of a rant.  I'll climb back into my hole

If I haven't seen further, it is by standing in the footprints of giants

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