XS: XSL Wish List

Subject: XS: XSL Wish List
From: "B. Tommie Usdin" <btusdin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 4 Jan 1998 16:18:36 -0500
Paul Grosso wrote:
>I should add that discussion on user requirements, design goals, and general
>approach is not only appropriate, but very much welcome at this time.

OK, Paul.  I'll start.

What I *really* want in XSL is:
  - the full functionality of the DSSSL style language (or at least the
      most commonly used portions of DSSSL),
  - scripting to extend the style functionality as needed, and
  - XML syntax.

The full functionality of the DSSSL style language is desirable for XSL
because I want to be able to describe the presentation of XML documents for
a variety of display mechanisms which should include but should not be
limited to electronic display and print.  Understanding that this is a very
tall order, I'll be happy with the most commonly used portions of DSSSL,
starting with the functionality of DSSSL-O and adding the most commonly
used page formatting functions. I haven't counted functions in DSSSL, but
I'm pretty sure it will take more than 20% of DSSSL to meet the 80% of the

A scripting language is needed because I want an extensible style language
just as I want an extensible markup language.  No frozen style language
will meet the needs people will come up with in the future, just as no
tag-set will.  I don't actually care if the scripting language is Scheme or
ECMAScript or Tcl, or something else.  It should be something that exists
because writing a new language is time-consuming and will simply delay the
process.  I don't care which of the reasonable choices is selected because
no matter which is selected a lot of people will grumble, curse, learn the
language they disdain, and use it as needed.

XML syntax is desirable for XSL because it will, by definition, be familiar
to developers in the XML environment.  There should be no need to introduce
another syntax in order to provide a new class of functionality.  If there
is anything in DSSSL that cannot be expressed in XML I would be very
surprised, and would argue that this indicates a need to improve XML.

I think the approach of DSSSL in XML syntax is consistent with the approach
of XML.  Just as XML is SGML for the Web, XSL should be the style language
of SGML (DSSSL) for the Web.  Just as SGML is valuable for some
applications on the Web, largely because it is a well thought out, platform
independent, international standard, DSSSL will be valuable for those same
applications, for the same reasons.

-- Tommie

B. Tommie Usdin                       Phone:  301/315-9631
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.           Fax:    301/315-8285
17 West Jefferson Street, Suite 207   E-mail: btusdin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Rockville, MD  20850                  WWW: http://www.mulberrytech.com

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