RE: [xsl] XSLT vs Schematron Decision: Sanity Check

Subject: RE: [xsl] XSLT vs Schematron Decision: Sanity Check
From: Norm Birkett <Norm.Birkett@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2011 17:36:41 -0400
Thanks for the encouragement and sales tips. The more I work with these
XML tools, the more I think this is the track we should take, but it's
much better to know that others have had good results from making the

The funny thing here is that we use XML all over our application. All
data is passed around inside the various parts of it in XML. But as the
system's framework was built back around 1999, the XML tools were pretty
primitive, and so all this ubiquitous XML is being processed by VB and
C++ (and recently C#) code using MSXML's DOM implementation--and only
the really early features of that. Lots of developers here regard XML as
a nuisance, which seems to make them indisposed to look at using
XML-specific tools, with the perverse consequence that the XML is indeed
more of a nuisance. Doing all your validation in VB6 using MSXML is very
definitely for the birds! But my feeling is that given that we are stuck
with XML as our main internal data representation, we should figure out
whether that can be turned into a productivity advantage rather than a
pure drag.

I'm focusing my argument so far on validation, just because that's where
I think the gains of using XML tools are most easily seen. In a shop
where there exists no documentation whatsoever on the data structures at
the heart of our system, my hope is that the effect of seeing a
compact-syntax RELAX NG schema and a series of Schematron validation
rules for a key structure or two will be to arouse interest in this
approach. It's too early to tell if it is arousing enough interest to
get the pilot project approved, but there are some positive signs.

As I continue my prototyping steps, I'm sure I'll be coming back with
more questions. I really appreciate the opportunity on this list to tap
so much experience.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Wendell Piez [mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
> Sent: Friday, October 21, 2011 12:46 PM
> To: xsl-list@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [xsl] XSLT vs Schematron Decision: Sanity Check
> Dear Norm,
> On 10/21/2011 12:34 PM, Norm Birkett wrote:
> > Your point, Wendell, about Schematron's being a small enough
> > that expert users can learn to work in it or very close to it is
> > highly relevant to this project. We have a small army of "business
> > analysts" who write specs for our programmers. These specs deal with
> > data validation rules quite extensively, and they tend to suffer
> > vagueness problems. Moreover, by the time a project is completed,
> > developers have often negotiated changes to the specs, which are not
> > then consistently reflected in updates to the actual spec
> > documents--rendering the specs pretty worthless over time. So I'm
> > looking for ways to close up the loop a bit more tightly between
> > and code, and if we can shift spec-writing, at least as it relates
> > data validation, into Schematron, it would help us toward that
> > objective.
> This is not untypical of organizations shifting to XML-based
> publishing,
> which both demands, and rewards, a closer coupling between processes
> and
> technology than many are used to.
> > It remains to be seen whether the project will be approved, and
> > whether I can get the culture to accept Schematron in this way, but
> > I'm hopeful.
> Consider floating a small demo with some keen and forward-thinking
> insiders, if you have any. If it is well-designed to be both
> intelligible and representative of your actual problems, the rest will
> be much easier.
> I know several organizations who are doing this and have never looked
> back.
> Cheers,
> Wendell
> --
> ======================================================================
> Wendell Piez                            mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Mulberry Technologies, Inc.      
> 17 West Jefferson Street                    Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
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