Re: Venting

Subject: Re: Venting
From: James Clark <jjc@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 17:57:18 +0700
Paul Prescod wrote:

> >  The specifications of the two languages are
> > cleanly separated: the transformation language is in section 2 and the
> > formatting DTD is in section 3. Whether or not you make separate
> > physical documents out of the two sections doesn't seem a big deal to
> > me.
> It is a big deal because people come to a language called "XSL" with
> expectations. When I show them XT with DocBook output they say: "I don't
> see anything that remotely resembles style application." Well, I say,
> "Style application is ONE thing you can do with XSL but only one. It isn't
> REALLY a style language at all. Or, to be precise, it has two parts and
> the two parts together are a style language but if you throw away one part
> you end up with something which is much more general and in many ways much
> more powerful. Sorry. I'm confusing you. Let me back up. You take the XSL
> style language and you throw away the style part and you get this cool
> transformation language. What's it called? Well, it doesn't really have a
> name. It's XSL without the style parts."

Let me qualify what I said.  It's not a big *technical* deal.  I could
easily split the XSL spec into two independent specs in an hour or so. 
Splitting wouldn't make any difference to what you can do with XSL; XSL
does not restrict the transformation language to generating formatting
objects. The spec already says:

> XSL does not require result trees to use the formatting vocabulary
> and thus can be used for general XML
> transformations. For example, XSL can be used to transform XML to
> "well-formed" HTML, that is, XML that uses
> the element types and attributes defined by HTML.

So why hasn't it been split?  People need to understand that the W3C
working groups don't just work on whatever they feel like.  W3C working
groups have a charter that says what they are allowed to work on.  The
charter has to be formally approved by the W3C director and member
companies.  The XSL WG's charter authorises it to work on a stylesheet
language not a transformation language.  From the perspective of the
charter, the only justification of the transformation part of XSL is
that, when combined with the formatting object vocabulary, it yields a
stylesheet language.  The XSL WG is producing a spec defining a
stylesheet language, because it's chartered to define a stylesheet
language.  However much I sympathize with your desire to see the
transformation language separated out, it's hard to make a case for this
within the XSL WG given the current XSL charter.


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