Re: [xsl] XML/XSLT for web templating

Subject: Re: [xsl] XML/XSLT for web templating
From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2007 11:43:33 -0400

Well, if it's just masochism not to use XSLT, I take back what I just said about going with the flow. :-)

As for your current questions:

At 11:10 AM 10/9/2007, you wrote:
Has anybody noticed how still today (10 years after its introduction)
people think of XML as CSV, but just more complicated and using angle
brackets instead of commas? Aren't all the other "templating"
solutions treating XHTML as plain text?
How many times on this list have we seen somebody asking "why <a
href="<xsl:value-of select="link"/>"> doesn't work"? Or how about the
question "how do I open a tag inside an <xsl:if>?".

Well one of the reasons for its success is that, from a certain weird way of looking at it, XML is just another plain-text data format. This is what makes commodity toolsets possible, since it's possible to hack and fix and develop XML without buying into any particular company's proprietary solution.

Of course, given a sufficiently tight and lean standard (blessings on the original XML WG), even though not perfect, we now have important specifications such as XSLT and XQuery and Java binding technologies and Python data models and Perl libraries etc. etc. built on top of this format. I think the mental barrier you observe is simply that it takes so long for people to come to see that this entire processing architecture -- not just one or another piece of it -- might be open, and that this creates radical new possibilities.

In any case, the reason why I originally wrote was to see if there
was anybody who had experience with large scale deployments in the
world of web publishing, that are using XML and XSLT and that could
volunteer to share that experience. Of course I realize that there
may be more than one constrain and NDAs to prevent doing so, but
still, asking should be ok...

Well yeah, there are NDAs ... and there are individuals and companies signing those NDAs, i.e. making their living as consultants to large-scale publishers who are building XML-based systems. Who don't talk about it, since to do so gives up a strategic advantage to their competitors.

But my company hardly makes a secret of the business we're in, and we know many others (Ken, Tony, Mike, Jeni, just to name a few stalwarts who make appearances on this list) who do the same.

To say nothing of all the companies making reasonable livings offering tools to support this market.

Oh, and BTW -- just about *every* company is a publisher these days. Our clients are not limited to companies in the "publishing" sector.

And yes, of course, I am aware of Coocon as a platform, Lenya, the
Docbook standard etc, but one of the most common objections that I
face is "there's no large site that uses it".

How about (hardly a secret)

Somebody recently even reported "eBay was using it, but now they are moving
to JSP because it doesn't work". Since there's no sticker that says "made with XSLT"
or "powered by Saxon" (maybe we should start doing it) and transformed pages are still .html, it's hard to provide evidence of the contrary.

People whose business decisions are based on rumors go down in the crash. Darwin takes care of them ... until a new bunch springs up. This is perennial.

In the meantime, any company working in a competitive environment would be happy to have a rumor going around that they aren't using the technology they are actually committed to, because it's "not up to the job".

And, last, and half jokingly, why don't we start a "fear-not-" collective blog? It could be not such a bad resource for w3c evangelists...

It's not a bad idea, but in general I don't think people's opinions are strongly affected by web sites or blogs they don't already agree with -- largely since they know they can find another one saying differently.

That's why the approach I recommend is not to make a big deal of it: just do it. The future is bright. Who'd have thought ten years ago we'd have come so far?


Wendell Piez                            mailto:wapiez@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.      
17 West Jefferson Street                    Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
Suite 207                                          Phone: 301/315-9631
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
  Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in SGML and XML

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