Re: [xsl] Detecting presence of attributes

Subject: Re: [xsl] Detecting presence of attributes
From: Peter Flynn <peter@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 5 Feb 2001 22:30:57 +0000
On Mon, 05 Feb 2001, Francois wrote:

> Okay I bite.
> What can you accomplish with an ENTITIES attribute with full SGML
> implementations?

Nothing specific to SGML: this works in XML also. It's not important
for most users, and it's really only a matter of syntax and elegance.
Omnimark lets you say (assuming foo is declared as ENTITIES):

element bar
	set counter to 0
	repeat over attribute foo
		increment counter
		output "," when counter > 1
		output "%v(foo)"

The counter-setting is tedious. They should have extended the power of
the OCCURRENCE operator to take on the index of the entity value when
referenced within the scope of a repeat over loop for a list-valued
attribute. Then it would become

element bar
	repeat over attribute foo
		output "%v(foo)"
		output "," when number of attribute foo < occurrence

This is why Omnimark can charge large sums of money for their program
(it used to be free). As a former colleague of mine said, "It's
frightening, the syntax is simple enough even for my manager to
grasp" :-).

The alternatives (Balise and SGMLC) are based on C/C++ syntax and
are more attractive to programmers with that background.

> And is there an alternative in the world of XML and XSLT?

Not that I am aware of, unless you want to learn DSSSL. XSLT
implementations can do almost everything these languages can, but have
not yet been bullet-proofed or ruggedized to industrial strength.
That's probably not very far away though. 

My money used to be on Omnimark: it's now firmly on XSL and its
siblings provided vendor pressure in W3C does not cripple the languages
because of unwillingness to implement them in their entirety.

This is now wandering off-topic: I suggest we leave it here.


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