Re: XLS files scrambling

Subject: Re: XLS files scrambling
From: "G. Ken Holman" <gkholman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 30 Jun 2000 12:04:23 -0400
At 00/06/23 10:06 +0200, George Prezerakos (ETG) wrote:
      I have created some XSL files that convert data from XML to WML.
      I would like to scramble those files so that nobody else can read them.

At 00/06/23 15:58 +0200, George Prezerakos (ETG) wrote:
>We gotta separate between personal and corporate views. Of course I like
>open source source projects and freeware distribution (and I have actually
>developed free or low-cost s/w a lot of times).
>However, when working for a company and writing software for the company's
>clients you might (just might) be asked to encrypt some stuff. I haven't
>come across this situation yet but I posted my original question just in case.

I support George's desire to be able to scramble an XSLT stylesheet (I've got to ask, though, if the subject line was just a typo or a deliberate pun to the subject matter).

To this end (and before George's post), I had specifically requested to the Sun XSLT compiler developers in Paris to add the ability to request obfuscation of the compiled stylesheet in certain circumstances. This was something the developers had not considered, but is something I would value and I think Sun's project is the first opportunity where this can be effectively accomplished.

I, too, have free XSLT resources available on my web site, but I have invested hundreds of hours in other stylesheets I use myself that I have not made available to others because I cannot protect the intellectual property of what I've put in with my effort.

A number of us on this list are running businesses. I can give away stuff that is very useful to gain awareness of what I have to offer, but I can then sell other stuff to make money to live (unlike those on the list who can rely on salaries, my wife and I are the entire company). There will be times when I will want to make a running system available without revealing how I've developed the contents.

A lot of what is valuable in a stylesheet are the choices in the names of constructs, the documentation, and the general structure of the stylesheet itself. The maintainability of the stylesheet is often as important or more important than what the stylesheet does itself.

I had asked the Sun folks about the compiled byte code and was told that as it stands today a lot of the original stylesheet can be systematically derived ... so I specifically asked for obfuscation features that would make this more difficult. Certainly, there are some stylesheet development approaches that would choke on obfuscation, but for those stylesheets that do not refer to the clear text of the stylesheet file itself, there are a number of opportunities for hiding the original work in the stylesheet files themselves.

I do not see George's request as nefarious and I think the flames were uncalled for.

................. Ken

-- G. Ken Holman mailto:gkholman@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Crane Softwrights Ltd. Box 266, Kars, Ontario CANADA K0A-2E0 +1(613)489-0999 (Fax:-0995) Web site: XSL/XML/DSSSL/SGML services, training, libraries, products. Book: Practical Transformation Using XSLT and XPath ISBN1-894049-04-7 Next instructor-led training: 2000-06-12,2000-06-13,2000-09-19/20, - 2000-10-03,2000-10-04,2000-10-05,2000-11-13,2001-01-27

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