Re: [xsl] Difference between XSL and XSLT

Subject: Re: [xsl] Difference between XSL and XSLT
From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2006 14:58:03 -0500

XSL specifies two things:

[1] XSLT -- a language one uses to specify a conversion from one (XML) format to another
[2] XSL Formatting Objects -- a set of objects, represented in an XML format, used to specify the presentation of information, on screen or in print, in a platform- and application-independent way.

This is a bit complicated to understand because although both of these together constitute "XSL", either piece can be used independently of the other.

So a classic XSL application is one that uses XSLT to create an FO instance, typically by transforming a document in some other XML format into the FO format. Subsequently, this instance is handed to another piece of software, an "XSL Formatter", which creates a final output format such as PDF. Since XSL Formatters are typically bundled with XSLT transformation engines, the result is that one can go end-to-end from your XML input to your PDF or other formatted output without noticing the step in between.

However, you could create your FO by some other method and get your formatted document that way. This is fairly rare (mainly because XSLT is so good at the job), but not hard to do.

Alternatively (and this is where things get confusing) you could use XSLT to create something besides XSL-FO. This is quite common. Common "target" formats for XSLT besides FO include HTML, plain text, SVG, WML, what have you. Indeed, such uses of XSLT are even more common than "full XSL", and since they're also usually simpler, this is the way most developers first get into the technology. Many developers may never use FO at all.

So your answer is that one would use XSLT for transformations of one XML format into another (or into a related format such as HTML); moreover, if your final output is intended to be a format that is well supported by FO -- the best ready example is PDF, but there are others -- then might want to go beyond simply XSLT and use all of XSL.

I hope that helps,

At 02:45 PM 2/10/2006, you wrote:
I am having a presentation on Monday about XML, XSLT and XSD.  I am
wondering what if they ask me what the difference between XSLT and XSL
is, or why we should use the one over the other...I didn't know how to

I know XSLT is a subset o XSL.  But still a bit confusing to explain why
to use XSLT rather than XSL or vice versa...

Any comment?

Wendell Piez                            mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.      
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