Re: why split? [was RE: XSL intent survey]

Subject: Re: why split? [was RE: XSL intent survey]
From: Chris Maden <crism@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 1998 17:13:54 -0500 (EST)
[Scott Lawton]
> *My* bias is that documents currently have to be created at least
> twice: for print & for the Web.  Creating & maintaining 2 versions
> is a nightmare.  That's what I want XML/"XSL" to fix.

Thanks, Scott; I've been trying to formulate a response to this
thread, and you've given me the point to begin a short one.

Print vs. Web is a false dichotomy.  BECAUSE current styling
capabilities on the Web are inadequate, the two media are seen as
separate.  XSL is an attempt to bring "print"-quality formatting to
the Web; an attempt to destroy the status quo that Web formatting must
be either boring or non-portable.  Imagine PDF documents, but with
font sizes you can read and honoring your choice of how big to make
your browser window, re-flowing appropriately.

High-quality formatting is an iterative process; consider the case of
footnote placement.  Sometimes placing a footnote on a page causes the
text to which it is attached to flow to the next page.  The formatter
must have enough information to deal with this.  Page number
references are similar, and consider conditional chapter openers that
vary whether they are on recto or verso pages.

The CSS formatting model is good for what it addresses.  It could be
extended for intelligent formatting objects like these, but I think
its fundamental model of kind-of-thing { property: value } would
either make that extension awkward, or would have to be removed.
STTS, an attempt at transformation in CSS syntax, looks clunky to me.

So the output of a transformation from semantic to styled language
needs to be intelligent formatting objects, capable of expressing
restraints and relationships; why not use XML?  The formatters can
then leverage all the work done in XML processors to their advantage.

So why not split the language into two specifications, XTL and XFM?
It's been discussed, but there's a fear, justified I think by recent
vendor actions, that the transformation will be implemented and not
the formatting model, trapping us all in this single-scroll ghetto

<!ENTITY crism PUBLIC "-//O'Reilly//NONSGML Christopher R. Maden//EN"
"<URL> <TEL>+1.617.499.7487
<USMAIL>90 Sherman Street, Cambridge, MA 02140 USA" NDATA SGML.Geek>

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