XSLT: a discussion of alternatives (was XSL debate...)

Subject: XSLT: a discussion of alternatives (was XSL debate...)
From: "Jonathan Borden" <jborden@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 16:18:24 -0400
Didier PH Martin wrote:
> Hi Jonathan,
> You said:
> 1) transformations are not important
> 2) procedural languages (e.g. ECMAScript+DOM) can handle transformations
> just fine.
> 3) DSSSL can be modified to better handle transformations
> 4) XSLT is just not a good way to transform (and if so please suggest
> another)
> Didier says:
> interesting questions Jonathan. I won't answer for simon, but here are my
> answers:
> 1) no, they are important
> 2) yes, with the right constructs (object based for example)

	Fine, but these constructs are not standard functions in ECMAScript+DOM. I
personally can work with either declarative or procedural programming, and
find that XSLT is a more cognitively efficient way of writing transforms
than would occur with either scripting languages, Java, C++ etc.

> 3) absolutely

	I agree that this would have been an acceptable, and ultimately perhaps
superior solution. On the other hand, this is because I like LISP and have
no problem dealing with "()". One interesting advantage of XSL is that is
uses XML syntax. I believe there is room for both XSL and DSSSL, and do hope
that work on DSSSL continues. The idea that you have supported in regards to
distributing language modules as XPCOM components is an excellent one.
Support for this comes from the distribution of script 'handlers' as COM
components. Using this mechanism of plugable language handlers, sites would
be free to choose a scripting or transformation language and automatically
distribute a language module to users. We need to work toward allowing
developers to use the language of their choice, not mandating a single
mechanism of doing everything.

> 4)again a big yes - alternatives: DSSSL, STTS, XScripts, Omnimark, Balise,
> etc... Depend if you prefer "()", "<>", "{}" etc...

	I find XSLT an excellent way to transform. DSSSL is a standard and should
be supported ... this means either by browser vendors directly, or browser
vendors need to introduce a mechanism to modularize language units.
Advantages of XSLT:

1) multiple 'open source' (and proprietary) implementations
2) support from major vendors
3) XML syntax (this advantage is arguable but it *does* make XSLT unique)
4) it is well along W3C standards track.

	As someone who has been using LISP for two+ decades (and hence has no
problem with DSSSL's "()"), I do quite like XSLT as I complete my first
significant XSLT based app, and having written >100 XSLT sheets. Everything
has a learning curve, just because 50 javascript developers get frustrated
on their first attempt to write use XSLT doesn't mean it should be trashed.

Jonathan Borden

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