Leventhal's challenge misses the point

Subject: Leventhal's challenge misses the point
From: jcaruso@xxxxxxxxxxxxx (Jeff Caruso)
Date: Thu, 27 May 1999 11:51:56 -0400
<!--I've posted the following in the XML forum-->

I've gone through Michael Leventhal's challenge in his xml.com article.
Unfortunately it seems to miss the point of XSL.

To win the challenge someone needs to do something that cannot be duplicated
using a general programming language with DOM+CSS.  No language, including
XSL, claims such miraculous powers.

This reminds me of "anything that can be done in C, I can do in Pascal.  C
has nothing new for programming languages." A bogus challenge which avoids
the real point.

The real challenge should be not what is within Michael Leventhal's ability,
but what is within an ordinary stylesheet writer's ability. With XSL they
get a certain amount of power and control within a fairly easy-to-understand
setting. Almost everyone will be able to learn enough of it for their
purposes; e.g. something like a client-generated table of contents should be
within anyone's reach. Under Michael's proposal (no XSL), the instant
someone needs things beyond CSS, they need to learn C++ or JavaScript and
the DOM. Many will not make that jump.

Michael's challenge is (literally) unacceptable.  The test is wrong; the
stakes are unbalanced.  This kind of wagering seems inconsistent with a
careful attempt to craft international standards.

 -- Jeff Caruso

(Disclaimer: I am a member of the XSL Working Group but do not speak for
them. The opinions expressed here are my own, and not those of Bitstream,
Inc. or the XSL WG.  Likewise any errors are my fault and not theirs.)

> Michael Leventhal's Challenge:
> Anything XSL can do in the Web environment, I can do better using
> technologies supported by current W3C Recommendations.
> Of course, what is "meaningful" in the Web environment is open to a
> variety of interpretations. Therefore, the subject of the challenge
> should be one that the XSL camp and I agree is meaningful.
> I am also ready to make this bet a little bit more than an academic
> exercise. If I lose, I will pledge that I, and my crack mozilla
> development team, will assist in implementing XSL in the mozilla open
> source project.
> If my opponents lose they will agree to desist from XSL advocacy, vote
> against an XSL Recommendation if they are members of the W3C, and will
> join me in calling for full, flawless, and unequivocal vendor support of
> CSS1 and CSS2, DOM Level 1, and XML 1.0 as the very first and top
> priority of the web community.

Dr. Jeffrey L. Caruso <jcaruso@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Bitstream, Inc.  215 First St.  Cambridge, MA 02142

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