[xsl] Re: <?XSL?> - Oh what a tangled web w3 weave :)

Subject: [xsl] Re: <?XSL?> - Oh what a tangled web w3 weave :)
From: Arved Sandstrom <Arved_37@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 07 Jan 2001 10:53:07 -0400
On Sat, 6 Jan 2001 04:52:21 EST, Andre Watt wrote:

1. Confine the generic term "XSL" to situations which refer to XSLFO _and_
XSLT collectively.
2. When referring to XSL Formatting Objects the abbreviation to be used
should be either "XSL-FO" or "XSLFO".
3. When referring to XSL Transformations the abbreviation used should be
"XSL-T" or "XSLT".
4. It should be recognised that there are two "XSL Namespaces". The XSLT
Namespace is http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform. The XSL-FO Namespace is
5. The confusing "indicative prefix" (my term) for those two namespaces
should be corrected/made consistent. I would suggest that the XSLT namespace
use the "indicative prefix" of "xslt" rather than "xsl" i.e. the present
<xsl:stylesheet> element would become <xslt:stylesheet>. Similarly the "fo"
indicative prefix would become "xslfo" i.e. <fo:root> would become

Agreed on all counts.

Furthermore, I would personally argue for more consistent use of the word 
"stylesheet". Reading the specs one senses that there are 2 kinds of 
stylesheet - a generalized XSLT stylesheet that can produce anything when it 
is applied, and an XSL (XSLT + XSLFO) stylesheet that produces XSLFO when it 
is applied. And I think the term "stylesheet" is used in the first instance 
because nobody has thought of anything better.

Still, if a stylesheet is used in a middleware application to condition 
data, is that "styling"? I think not.

I have no good suggestions for what to call a general XML document using the 
XSLT namespace and _any_ result namespaces. I suspect a lot of general users 
think a stylesheet is involved if one gets visual output by applying XSLT to 
some XML to produce HTML or WML, so the waters are already badly muddied. In 
fact, I'd argue that even if the XSLT "thing" is producing an HTML+CSS 
result, it's still not an XSLT stylesheet...XSLT is doing no styling, CSS is.

I think, but cannot prove, that the use of the word "stylesheet" in XSLT 
(hence <xsl:stylesheet>) started early enough in the spec process that folks 
were often thinking XSLT + XSLFO (that is, "XSL"), not just XSLT. 
Particularly if the spec people were mostly "document-centric". Now of 
course the data side of XML has really exploded, and XSLT is being used in 
ways that I believe were not originally anticipated, or just weren't that 
prominent on the radar. The terminology doesn't reflect that shift, though.

Me, I think I'll just start calling an XSLT "thing" a "program". :-) If the 
result of an XSLT program is XSLFO then I'll call it a stylesheet.

Arved Sandstrom
Fairly Senior Software Type
e-plicity (http://www.e-plicity.com)
Wireless * B2B * J2EE * XML --- Halifax, Nova Scotia

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