XSL competition canceled

Subject: XSL competition canceled
From: Jon Bosak <bosak@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 1999 22:18:28 -0700 (PDT)
A few months ago, inspired by what Jade had done for the acceptance of
DSSSL and for our understanding of multimedia page formatting, I
attempted to jumpstart an effort to develop similar high-end
formatting tools for XSL by proposing a two-part competition.  One
part was to have awarded a grant to encourage the development of XSL
formatting capabilities in Mozilla, and one part was to have funded a
contest whose prizes would be awarded to the persons or organizations
that came up with the two best public-domain XSL print formatters.  I
regret to announce that we have had to cancel both parts of the

Without going into the details, which at this point I would rather
forget, suffice it to say that I seriously miscalculated the amount of
money it would take to accomplish anything meaningful.  In the case of
the Mozilla grant, I radically underestimated the amount of
development work it would take to implement any useful degree of
XSL-level formatting in a high-performance, cross-platform, commercial
online browser, so the planned award was not proportionate to the work
required.  And in the case of the print formatter contest, I failed to
reckon with the costs of contest registration in various countries,
which (I have come to learn) would have far exceeded the total amount
available for the prizes themselves.

While I'm sad that this initiative didn't work out, I remain convinced
that the DSSSL/XSL approach will eventually prevail.  The advantages
of a single tools and training infrastructure for formatting in all
media are so compelling for producers, and the benefits of a common
declarative format (XML+XSL) for exchanging logical and presentational
semantics together across all publishing environments are so
compelling for consumers, that I believe that the merits of this
approach will eventually overcome the difficulty of implementation.

It has taken over a decade -- from the standardization of SGML in 1986
to the present -- for the widespread adoption of an open format for
logical semantics; it may take that long again for the standardization
of the presentational component in a way that preserves logical
semantics by binding them to presentation rules rather than stripping
them out before documents are distributed.  But as long as it may
take, I am, if anything, more convinced now than I was when I started
working with tools based on this approach almost a decade ago that
this is the right way to accomplish commercial publishing in multiple
media, and I have faith that its technical advantages for publishers
(which I know from direct experience) will eventually deliver its
expressive capabilities and freedom from proprietary control to all

I hope that my present inability to raise the capital needed to
promote the development of XSL formatting through direct payment will
not discourage those who share my desire to see our industry delivered
from proprietary publishing formats, but will rather serve to point up
the crucial role to be played by software freely developed for the
public good.  It is to the developers of such liberation efforts as
emacs, perl, Python, Java, and Linux that I look for the tools that
will accomplish for publishing in multiple media what these are
accomplishing for programming.  If the money isn't there, perhaps it
will be better to have done it for the glory.


 Jon Bosak, Online Information Technology Architect, Sun Microsystems
  901 San Antonio Road, MPK17-101     |  O snail,
  Palo Alto, California 94303         |    Climb Mt. Fuji,
  ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34::NCITS V1::OASIS  |      But slowly, slowly!
  Chair, W3C XML Coordination Group   |                      -- Issa

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