Re: [xsl] xsl 2.0?

Subject: Re: [xsl] xsl 2.0?
From: "Tony Graham" <tgraham@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 2013 23:06:34 -0000 (GMT)
On Tue, November 5, 2013 10:54 am, Wayne Brissette wrote:
> On Nov 4, 2013, at 2:39 PM, Tony Graham wrote:
>> What would it take to make XSL-FO easier to use for publishers?
> From working in two companies that now use XML in the tech pubs
> department, I think better tools. By that I mean tools that
> authors/writers can configure themselves without massive amounts of
> training. That tends to be more GUI oriented tools, which seem to be less
> common in XML-based workflows. Short of that, I'm not really sure what
> would help. Some of it simply can't be overcome. It's the nature of the
> beast. XSLT allows you to do some very powerful filtering, but they are
> things writers and authors simply aren't use to using and need outside
> help with.

So XPath -- or the possible complexity of the XPath needed to match or
select just the right thing -- is a problem?

For XSLT, when you can do practically anything inside a template, and do
it multiple times with modes, it would become hard to simplify that behind
a GUI.  Conversely, if you do have to simplify things to make a wizard
GUI, if you then need more you're either stuck or you edit the template in
ways that are no longer GUIable (assuming there is such a word).

There are GUI frontends for editing stylesheets, but none of them have
been runaway successes AFAICT.  I do sometimes wonder why we still mostly
write stylesheets by hand as XML, but none of the various efforts at a
'compact syntax' for XSLT have had much success either.

CSS became a lot more tractable (IMO) with the availability of tools like
Firebug that let you see the styles that apply to a particular element and
even modify them in-place in the browser.  I haven't seen anything similar
for XSL-FO.  Oxygen's debugger output is pretty good for seeing where an
element or attribute in the result came from, but you can't then modify
the stylesheet and see the change ripple through the output without
running the debugger again.  Antenna House's Windows GUI will show you
text properties but not margins, borders, etc., and again you can't modify
them in place to see what would happen so, if you're like me, you end up
editing an FO file and refreshing it in the GUI to see what changed.


Tony Graham                                   tgraham@xxxxxxxxxx
Mentea       13 Kelly's Bay Beach, Skerries, Co. Dublin, Ireland
 --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --  --
    XML, XSL-FO and XSLT consulting, training and programming
       Chair, Print and Page Layout Community Group @ W3C

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