[xsl] Review of Dimitre Novatchev's XSLT Pluralsight training

Subject: [xsl] Review of Dimitre Novatchev's XSLT Pluralsight training
From: "Michael Friedman sumarimike@xxxxxxxxxxx" <xsl-list-service@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2015 21:28:30 -0000
Id like to take a
moment to review and promote Dimitre Novatchevs XSLT 3.0, 2.0 and 1.0
courses on Pluralsight. I had the opportunity to take the XSLT 1 and 2
this year and expect to get into 3.0 soon.

I believe I need to
describe my own level or experience with XSLT and XPath to frame the
perspective which I offer my thoughts. I am self-taught, in the field, some
terror and flames involved as I learned all this for a project I was working
in 2001. I also worked in a system called Xyvision which used a rudimentary
form of XML/XSLT in the early and mid-1990s. I've never had formal training.
One of the early keys to my success was using Oxygen in debug mode to watch
the processor consumed the XML and processed the stylesheet. That showed me
more than anything how this technology worked. Doing that was my first
"awakening" moment for this process.

I believe for the
XSLT/FO community there are, generally speaking, three types of XSLT users.
Those who were and are part of the design of XSLT/XPath, people who are clear
A second subset appear to approach XSLT somewhat programmatically. That is,
they have a programming background or programming experience. The last set
"other" users. These can be people just trying to solve a problem or
are at the very beginning in the process of learning XSLT/XPath.

In my case, I fall
strangely into the Other category, with one more twist. I approach XSLT/XPath
almost solely from a publishing perspective. I've often been involved in
projects to turn paper into digital content, and my focus is on XSLFO and
and through that XSLT and XPath. So, I would say that, in relation to my
my experience is "Advanced".

All this is to say
that at my level of "Advanced" I was able to understand the training offered
in the XSLT 1 and XSLT 2 courses. I think the skill rating for these courses
"intermediate" on difficulty is apt. There are things I did not know
but was able to visualize and understand in concept. I had many
"aha!!" moments that put the pieces of the puzzle together for me.
For beginners, and people new to XSLT, I think the training would be more
(though still useful) because of the level of abstraction and partly because
beginners would need more examples to make up for a lack of experience.

So to really begin my
review of the XSLT 1 & 2 materials, I have this to say:

1. This is the first
time I felt like I was receiving proper training by a professional.

2. My own experience
in XSLFO/XSLT/XPath was VERY beneficial in understanding the material and
putting it in the right context.

3. A strong benefit of
the training was Dimitres provision of a common vocabulary. I did not know
terms "atomic" and "sequence constructors" for example, but
it made perfect sense, and now I can refer to these things correctly.

4. There were certain
instances, particularly in XSLT 2.0 where I wanted to try examples out on my
own. I could visualize the situation, but not entirely and needed to work
through a cause and effect. I had to pause the training frequently to see if
could understand the concept, it's application, and then some of the
implication. I like that he ran several concepts into one big example, but in
some cases wanted just one example to focus on.

5. I was particularly
interested in the details of functions. Not being a programmer, but starting
learn more programming, this is a foreign but very useful concept.

6. Not surprisingly, I
had some trouble with the programmer-oriented references, such as regular
expressions. I've worked with these before, but am not overly familiar with
nuance, which experts would be. I need to get better!

7. The fragmenting and
organization of the topics was very thorough, precise, and made a lot of
The structure of the training materials taught some things also.

8. I took a lot of
notes, primarily over items I did not know. Examples: Default template
handling, removing all non-normalized spacing (this is something I struggle
with a lot), top-level elements, tunneling parameters, encoding for uri,
codepoints, and normalization.

As an
"advanced" user with a beginning level of training, I felt like the
coursework was very appropriate for taking me to the "next level"
whatever that means for opening up the way I could write better code and
problems more effectively. I think the XSLT 3 prep will be more complicated
because it's farther removed from my experience. I kept thinking I would love
to sit down and discuss work I have done, do a code review, and see how I
have been more efficient. I immediately wanted to rewrite a certain bit of
I've worked on the past year. I think when one starts out as a programmer, you
somewhat linearly (or I did at least), and so I wrote my code in this linear
fashion trying to solve the problem linearly. But, with training, and as you
get better you see how you can do things in a more complex-appearing way that
is actually simpler if you can put that much together and have confidence in

I've heard many people
exclaim that learning on your own or working in the field is the best
experience for learning. But, I think it only goes so far, and was very
grateful to learn from Dimitres training materials. Im always grateful from
with the XSLT gurus and list at Mulberry Tech.
Kind regards,Michael Friedman

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