[xsl] Community-Defined XSL-FO Extensions

Subject: [xsl] Community-Defined XSL-FO Extensions
From: "W. Eliot Kimber" <eliot@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 11:44:37 -0500
I've now done enough work with the different XSL FO
implementations to realize that there is a relatively
small set of extensions that pretty much everyone
needs in order to use XSL FO for production technical
documentation. For example, both RenderX and Antenna
House have implemented extensions for defining PDF
bookmarks and for producing back-of-the-book indexes.

Ideally, the XSL FO specification would simply be
revised in order to meet this fairly clear set of
requirements. But it appears that the XSL working
group is not disposed to FO work at the moment, for
very understandable reasons.

Thus it occurs to me that it might be useful to start
a community effort to standardize what the various
vendors are doing unilaterally, using the EXSLT
activity as a model.

This raises two questions:

1. Would anyone else in the user/integrator community
be interested in contributing to such an effort?

2. Would the vendors be interested in contributing and
implementing community-developed extensions?

Extensions are an important way that vendors can
distinguish themselves in the marketplace, but on the
other hand, the XSL FO arena is one in which all
competition is already almost entirely on value, not
unique, proprietary features. Part of this is because
of the completeness of the FO spec itself (and the
completeness of the competing implementations) and
part of this is because of the fact that XSLT makes it
affordable to have a single style sheet that can
accomodate different implementations with very little
extra effort.

This suggests to me that it is in everybody's
interests to standardize the needed extensions in
advance of formal refinements to the FO spec. And of
course it would be supremely cool if a single
non-trivial FO instance could be used interchangably
with all or most of the available FO implementations.

I would be happy to start a SourceForge project or
even take something forward through OASIS if anyone
thinks we need that level of formality.



Eliot Kimber
W. Eliot Kimber, eliot@xxxxxxxxxx
Consultant, ISOGEN International

1016 La Posada Dr., Suite 240
Austin, TX  78752 Phone: 512.656.4139

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