Node list operations

Subject: Node list operations
From: "G. Ken Holman" <gkholman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 16:28:47 -0400
Hi all,

XSLT 19990421 is considered "feature complete", yet I've come across what I
think may represent the need for a frequently-used facility I cannot find
in the working draft.

I'm hoping someone on the list can show me if the following problem can,
indeed, be solved with Working Draft 19990421, because I've tried a lot of
things and keep getting caught up in the prewired document order of the axes.

First, here is a problem that I think will be a frequent need that I was
able to solve in a straightforward fashion, that of suppressing redundant
entries in a table:


<?xml version="1.0"?>


 X   Y   Z
 1   1   a
     2   b
     3   c
 2   1   d
     2   e
 3   1   f

..... suppressing redundant values for X.

This was really straightforward because the document order is in sorted order:

<?xml version="1.0"?>

<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="";>

<xsl:template match="/">                    <!--root rule-->
> X   Y   Z
  <xsl:apply-templates mode="next" select="//w"/>

<xsl:template name="show-entry">
  <xsl:param-variable name="x-value" expr="' '"/>
  <xsl:text> </xsl:text><xsl:value-of select="$x-value"/>
  <xsl:text>   </xsl:text><xsl:value-of select="y"/>
  <xsl:text>   </xsl:text><xsl:value-of select="z"/><xsl:text>

<xsl:template mode="next" match="*">
  <xsl:variable name="this" expr="x"/>
    <xsl:when test="not(from-preceding-siblings(w[x=$this]))">
      <xsl:call-template name="show-entry">
        <xsl:param name="x-value" expr="$this"/>
      <xsl:call-template name="show-entry"/>


Now, consider the problem where I want the same output from an unsorted

<?xml version="1.0"?>

Given that all the axes are interpreted with candidate nodes in document
order, not node-set order, I cannot find a way to solve this problem with
the proposed XSLT 1.0.  Every time I try to "look back" to previous
siblings in the node set, the axes available to me constrain me to document
order, not to the node-set order.  Same thing when I try to "walk" through
a node list, since subsetting the node list using apply-templates again
interprets the axes in document order.  Going through the axes, each
non-attribute one explicitly states it orientation with respect to document

I think I could solve it if I had a more complete set of node list
operations along the lines of:

  (1) - either: assign context node list to a variable
            or: allow <xsl:sort> as a child of <xsl:variable> for use when
the exprssion is a NodeSetExpr
  (2) - node-list-first( nodeSetExpr ) (or a node set preceding axis)
  (3) - node-list-rest( nodeSetExpr ) (or a node set following axis)

and then use call-template with variables and "walk through" the sorted
node set.

.... but I recognize it is *not* in the spirit of the current review of the
working draft to be suggesting new features (unless absolutely necessary?),
so I'm trying to solve this problem using the current working draft.

I recognize this can be done in a two-pass fashion, sorting the information
first into a new XML file and then working with the various document-order
axes to get the desired result.

So, my question is, can this problem be solved with the proposed working
draft in a single pass, and if not, is it important enough a problem that
it should be solved with version 1.0?

Thanks for any ideas you may have.

.............. Ken

G. Ken Holman                  mailto:gkholman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Crane Softwrights Ltd. 
Box 266, Kars, Ontario CANADA K0A-2E0  +1(613)489-0999  (Fax:-0995)
Website: XSL/XML/DSSSL/SGML services outline,  XSL/DSSSL shareware,
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