XSLT for webpages

Discussion in 'XML' started by Jeff Rubard, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. Jeff Rubard

    Jeff Rubard Guest

    I am curious to know whether anyone has experience using XSLT for
    web XML (non-XHTML) styling, either with CSS or standalone. I
    myself have engaged in rather unsuccessful experiments with the
    DocBook chunk stylesheet, but it seems to me that retaining the
    structural markup of XML formats (i.e., the marking out of salient
    properties of a text in "anticipation" of RDF "semantics") demands
    something more powerful than CSS as it is known to me; and would
    be curious to hear opinions on either the viability of XSLT sans
    Formatting Objects, or structure-preserving CSS tricks.

    Jeff Rubard
     
    Jeff Rubard, Feb 13, 2004
    #1
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  2. Jeff Rubard

    Andy Dingley Guest

    On Fri, 13 Feb 2004 23:41:11 GMT, Jeff Rubard
    <> wrote:

    >I am curious to know whether anyone has experience using XSLT for
    >web XML (non-XHTML) styling,


    This has been commonplace since around '99 or so.

    >it seems to me that retaining the
    >structural markup of XML formats (i.e., the marking out of salient
    >properties of a text in "anticipation" of RDF "semantics") demands
    >something more powerful than CSS as it is known to me;


    Yes, CSS doesn't cut it.

    XSLT is a powerful tool for most transforms you can require and can
    express in a "structural" manner - i.e. you can describe what's needed
    in terms of XML-Infoset, both for input, output and control. An
    experienced XSLT developer should be able to build these, to such a
    level that your biggest problem becomes managing the XSLT code (which
    is a nightmare) rather than implementing the transform.

    XSLT is good at "non-semantic" transforms, and it fails at "semantic"
    processing. Trying to process an RDF/XML document is impractical, just
    because it may have a model structure that's more than XML-Infoset can
    express (usually rdf:resource is the culprit), even before you start
    to worry about making complex decisions based on semantic content.

    XSLT is a good final styling step for web content, expanding a DocBook
    core document into a "site" with nav menus on the page and links to
    related pages. But it's not a content assembler to select DocBook
    fragments that match some semantic query ("animal" and "has wings" and
    "not bird"), nor is it a search engine that can efficiently query a
    huge phone directory and return a single record.

    --
    Smert' spamionam
     
    Andy Dingley, Feb 14, 2004
    #2
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  3. Jeff Rubard

    Jeff Rubard Guest

    On Sat, 14 Feb 2004 01:54:33 +0000, Andy Dingley wrote:

    > On Fri, 13 Feb 2004 23:41:11 GMT, Jeff Rubard
    > <> wrote:
    >
    >>I am curious to know whether anyone has experience using XSLT for
    >>web XML (non-XHTML) styling,

    >
    > This has been commonplace since around '99 or so.


    Two questions: 1) What formats are commonly styled for web
    presentation using XSLT? 2) I wasn't aware that browser support for XSL
    was incorporated until quite recently. Are you referring to something
    else?

    >>it seems to me that retaining the
    >>structural markup of XML formats (i.e., the marking out of salient
    >>properties of a text in "anticipation" of RDF "semantics") demands
    >>something more powerful than CSS as it is known to me;

    >
    > Yes, CSS doesn't cut it.


    Well, as far as I can tell XHTML is designed to have no more structural
    markup than CSS can style, which means that other formats require
    something more powerful basically *by design* (i.e., that CSS should be
    "deprecated" in the minds of those who think that formats with more
    extensive tags should be widely used, as I do). But XSL-FO doesn't seem
    to have been designed with any kind of presentation other than PDF
    (*perhaps* good enough for print, although it wouldn't have been in the
    "camera-ready" era). I dunno, maybe .dvi can be brought back as a
    rendering standard since PostScript appears to be off limits

    > XSLT is a powerful tool for most transforms you can require and can
    > express in a "structural" manner - i.e. you can describe what's needed
    > in terms of XML-Infoset, both for input, output and control. An
    > experienced XSLT developer should be able to build these, to such a
    > level that your biggest problem becomes managing the XSLT code (which
    > is a nightmare) rather than implementing the transform.
    >
    > XSLT is good at "non-semantic" transforms, and it fails at "semantic"
    > processing. Trying to process an RDF/XML document is impractical, just
    > because it may have a model structure that's more than XML-Infoset can
    > express (usually rdf:resource is the culprit), even before you start
    > to worry about making complex decisions based on semantic content.


    Well, the thing is the "semantic model" for mark-up documents is,
    *logically* speaking, a fantasy: formal systems extensive enough to
    encode all the material we'd want simply aren't tractable enough to
    allow machine processing on the CERN XML model; i.e., they really came a
    cropper with RDF.

    > XSLT is a good final styling step for web content, expanding a DocBook
    > core document into a "site" with nav menus on the page and links to
    > related pages. But it's not a content assembler to select DocBook
    > fragments that match some semantic query ("animal" and "has wings" and
    > "not bird"), nor is it a search engine that can efficiently query a
    > huge phone directory and return a single record.


    This is what I'd like to know more about: as I've said, I've looked at
    Walsh's stylesheets and guide for DocBook XSL but would be curious to
    know more about an implemented TEI standard or something along those lines.
     
    Jeff Rubard, Feb 14, 2004
    #3
  4. Jeff Rubard

    Andy Dingley Guest

    On Sat, 14 Feb 2004 03:37:17 GMT, Jeff Rubard
    <> wrote:

    >Two questions: 1) What formats are commonly styled for web
    >presentation using XSLT?


    What does "styled for web presentation using XSLT" mean ?

    If I use XSLT on the server, I can use it to serve content to
    everything from Telex machines and NS4 upwards.

    Do you mean "XML to the client, styled with client-side XSLT" alone ?

    >) I wasn't aware that browser support for XSL
    >was incorporated until quite recently. Are you referring to something
    >else?


    Yes - although at least one browser offered XSL in '99, it was a
    rarity. It's still impractical to offer XSLT-alone content over the
    web - most users are using IE 6, but there are plenty who aren't.
    Only if you're some form of intranet or extranet where you can
    influence browser choice can you really do this.


    >>>it seems to me that retaining the
    >>>structural markup of XML formats (i.e., the marking out of salient
    >>>properties of a text in "anticipation" of RDF "semantics") demands
    >>>something more powerful than CSS as it is known to me;


    What does CSS have to do with anything ? You can express (some)
    semantics with HTML 3.2 and liberal use of class and id attributes,
    although this isn't enough to really allow more than simple end-to-end
    communication between systems that are already hand-built to
    understand each other.

    CSS can be used to apply styling to a classified HTML markup, and it's
    not hard to arrange the semantic description so it's also available to
    drive the CSS. However the CSS selectors have no comprehension of
    semantics, they're just using the markup coincidentally.

    The next generation is as much about communicable standards for
    semantics, as they are about semantics themselves. I've been using RDF
    since '99 for the internals of systems, but it's only recently that
    DAML or OWL have made these semantics communicable to other systems
    that haven't this tight and hand-coded link set up beforehand.
    Incidentally, talking of RDF, then have a look at this week's new
    document release.

    >Well, as far as I can tell XHTML is designed to have no more structural
    >markup than CSS can style,


    What does this mean ? XHTML certainly _wasn't_ designed with sole
    reference to CSS (I did once have this very discussion with Dave
    Raggett - should we ditch the lot in favour of <div> and <span> and a
    bunch of CSS). XHTML exists in isolation. If it has simplistic
    semantics, then that's for its own reasons - not because of CSS.


    >which means that other formats require
    >something more powerful basically *by design* (i.e., that CSS should be
    >"deprecated" in the minds of those who think that formats with more
    >extensive tags should be widely used, as I do).


    What's your obsession with CSS ? I'm beginning to wonder if you
    have even a glimmer of a clue here. CSS lives at a presentation layer
    - if you care about semantics, you need to fix this at a deeper level.
    if you're to have any hope.


    >But XSL-FO doesn't seem
    >to have been designed with any kind of presentation other than PDF


    This is untrue. If PDF is predominant, that's just because PDF is a
    popular target. It's not an XSL:FO limit.

    >Well, the thing is the "semantic model" for mark-up documents is,
    >*logically* speaking, a fantasy:


    Why ?

    >formal systems extensive enough to
    >encode all the material we'd want simply aren't tractable enough


    That's more because demand expands to fill available technology. What
    are you specifically thinking of here, are are you just re-arranging
    words you've overheard ?

    >allow machine processing on the CERN XML model; i.e., they really came a
    >cropper with RDF.


    Why ?

    And what does CERN have to do with things today ?


    >This is what I'd like to know more about: as I've said, I've looked at
    >Walsh's stylesheets and guide for DocBook XSL but would be curious to
    >know more about an implemented TEI standard or something along those lines.


    Look at the huge amount of work going on right now with RDF and OWL.
    Go to the Protege workshop in a few months. But no, you;ve already
    decided that RDF "came a cropper"

    --
    Socialism: Eric, not Tony
     
    Andy Dingley, Feb 15, 2004
    #4
  5. Jeff Rubard

    Jeff Rubard Guest

    Andy Dingley <> wrote in message news:<>...
    > On Sat, 14 Feb 2004 03:37:17 GMT, Jeff Rubard
    > <> wrote:
    >
    > >Two questions: 1) What formats are commonly styled for web
    > >presentation using XSLT?

    >
    > What does "styled for web presentation using XSLT" mean ?


    An XML file prepared for presentation through a web browser
    (specifically, cutting out the stage of HTML conversion).

    > If I use XSLT on the server, I can use it to serve content to
    > everything from Telex machines and NS4 upwards.


    But in what formats can the content be served? If the answer is
    any format, as you suggest, then the contemporary content model
    is misprised -- really, we seem to be dealing with an immanent
    FO level within XSLT (i.e., the contemporary standards for Formatting
    Objects are something like "cripple-ware" relative to rendering
    technologies of the none-too-recent past -- why not Ghostscript FO?)

    > Do you mean "XML to the client, styled with client-side XSLT" alone ?


    More or less (see above).

    > >) I wasn't aware that browser support for XSL
    > >was incorporated until quite recently. Are you referring to something
    > >else?

    >
    > Yes - although at least one browser offered XSL in '99, it was a
    > rarity. It's still impractical to offer XSLT-alone content over the
    > web - most users are using IE 6, but there are plenty who aren't.
    > Only if you're some form of intranet or extranet where you can
    > influence browser choice can you really do this.
    >


    Well, obviously anyone can afford Mozilla and it has an XSLT engine.
    I.e., the thought is obviously a little blue-sky but presentation is
    going in certain directions and there are not necessarily overall
    reasons determining this.

    > >>>it seems to me that retaining the
    > >>>structural markup of XML formats (i.e., the marking out of salient
    > >>>properties of a text in "anticipation" of RDF "semantics") demands
    > >>>something more powerful than CSS as it is known to me;

    >
    > What does CSS have to do with anything ? You can express (some)
    > semantics with HTML 3.2 and liberal use of class and id attributes,
    > although this isn't enough to really allow more than simple end-to-end
    > communication between systems that are already hand-built to
    > understand each other.


    Well, on my understanding <p> is a semantic marker: semantic structure
    is
    non-presentation structure.

    > CSS can be used to apply styling to a classified HTML markup, and it's
    > not hard to arrange the semantic description so it's also available to
    > drive the CSS. However the CSS selectors have no comprehension of
    > semantics, they're just using the markup coincidentally.


    Well, CSS has to do with "latent" content as understood in traditional
    layout. Have you ever had to do paste-up? You get the idea that what
    you are sending "camera-ready" to the printers is not really that
    arbitrary relative to established typographical standards.

    >
    > The next generation is as much about communicable standards for
    > semantics, as they are about semantics themselves. I've been using RDF
    > since '99 for the internals of systems, but it's only recently that
    > DAML or OWL have made these semantics communicable to other systems
    > that haven't this tight and hand-coded link set up beforehand.
    > Incidentally, talking of RDF, then have a look at this week's new
    > document release.
    >


    Well, what is so fabulous about having a set-theoretic language (OWL)
    handling textual content? The traditional understanding (deriving
    primarily from Tarski) is, really nothing: if you were actually to do
    semantically-based reasoning using a "calculus of inclusion" you'd run
    into paradoxes, and a different kind of structuration is required to
    do less stringent "reasoning" such as automated theorem-provers are
    capable of (i.e., working recursions upon sets).

    > >Well, as far as I can tell XHTML is designed to have no more structural
    > >markup than CSS can style,

    >
    > What does this mean ? XHTML certainly _wasn't_ designed with sole
    > reference to CSS (I did once have this very discussion with Dave
    > Raggett - should we ditch the lot in favour of <div> and <span> and a
    > bunch of CSS). XHTML exists in isolation. If it has simplistic
    > semantics, then that's for its own reasons - not because of CSS.
    >


    Well, you seem to be really locking with the W3 teleology here: XHTML
    is a objectively defined standard with certain structural properties,
    and the assertion was that one of these properties is tight
    integration with CSS (i.e., there would be no need to do XHTML styling
    using a more powerful styling language).

    > >which means that other formats require
    > >something more powerful basically *by design* (i.e., that CSS should be
    > >"deprecated" in the minds of those who think that formats with more
    > >extensive tags should be widely used, as I do).

    >
    > What's your obsession with CSS ? I'm beginning to wonder if you
    > have even a glimmer of a clue here. CSS lives at a presentation layer
    > - if you care about semantics, you need to fix this at a deeper level.
    > if you're to have any hope.
    >


    I'm beginning to wonder whether discussion of markup languages is not
    allowed to be pitched at this level of abstraction anymore (i.e.,
    whether I actually even have a thought to think about SGML and
    Mostowski relative to the parameters specifying W3 consortium
    standards). It appears that one is to instead have a "depth" model of
    semantic markup, which I am saying doesn't make a lot of good logical
    sense (i.e., what-all you said isn't just what you meant).

    > >But XSL-FO doesn't seem
    > >to have been designed with any kind of presentation other than PDF

    >
    > This is untrue. If PDF is predominant, that's just because PDF is a
    > popular target. It's not an XSL:FO limit.


    Well, and it is too (i.e., it's designed for extremely static
    presentation, *not even* ).

    > >Well, the thing is the "semantic model" for mark-up documents is,
    > >*logically* speaking, a fantasy:

    >
    > Why ?


    Well, I'd need to know more about what you

    > >formal systems extensive enough to
    > >encode all the material we'd want simply aren't tractable enough

    >
    > That's more because demand expands to fill available technology. What
    > are you specifically thinking of here, are are you just re-arranging
    > words you've overheard ?


    I've never heard anybody say anything at all like this, actually.

    > >allow machine processing on the CERN XML model; i.e., they really came a
    > >cropper with RDF.

    >
    > Why ?


    Because semantic structure isn't really just "object-property"; it's
    got all kinds of sides, and the minute you go to a relational level
    with semantic content you have serious computational problems (it's
    the *Entscheidungsproblem*, the unsolvability of which really the
    fundament of computer science, in a different form). *That* is kind
    of a commonplace.

    > And what does CERN have to do with things today ?
    >


    As little as possible (as far as I can tell).

    > >This is what I'd like to know more about: as I've said, I've looked at
    > >Walsh's stylesheets and guide for DocBook XSL but would be curious to
    > >know more about an implemented TEI standard or something along those lines.

    >
    > Look at the huge amount of work going on right now with RDF and OWL.
    > Go to the Protege workshop in a few months. But no, you;ve already
    > decided that RDF "came a cropper"


    Well, I'm not really in that business. But thank you for your
    observations; I'll go familiarize myself with that RDF information.

    P.S. By the way, who is Eric (not Tony)?
     
    Jeff Rubard, Feb 16, 2004
    #5
  6. Jeff Rubard

    Jeff Rubard Guest

    (Jeff Rubard) wrote in message news:<>...
    > Andy Dingley <> wrote in message news:<>...


    > P.S. By the way, who is Eric (not Tony)?


    Seriously, who is this guy? Is this the British Oskar Lafontaine?
     
    Jeff Rubard, Feb 20, 2004
    #6
  7. Jeff Rubard

    Andy Dingley Guest

    On 20 Feb 2004 14:14:00 -0800, (Jeff Rubard)
    wrote:

    >> P.S. By the way, who is Eric (not Tony)?

    >
    >Seriously, who is this guy? Is this the British Oskar Lafontaine?


    Google for Eric+Orwell+pseudonym
     
    Andy Dingley, Feb 23, 2004
    #7
  8. Jeff Rubard

    Jeff Rubard Guest

    Andy Dingley wrote:
    > On 20 Feb 2004 14:14:00 -0800, (Jeff Rubard)
    > wrote:
    >
    >
    >>>P.S. By the way, who is Eric (not Tony)?

    >>
    >>Seriously, who is this guy? Is this the British Oskar Lafontaine?

    >
    >
    > Google for Eric+Orwell+pseudonym


    Okay.

    Simplicio: Questo non può essere, perché le generatzioni, mutatzioni
    etc. che si facesser, verbigrazia, nella Luna, sarebber inutile e vane,
    <<et natura nihil frustra facit>>.

    I look not for a substantive faculty, but for the generations, mutations
    and the like: what it lights upon, joyful noise, a moon of cilia, would
    useless and accessible <<and nature causes nothing in vain>>.

    Galileo, *Dialogues*
     
    Jeff Rubard, Feb 24, 2004
    #8
  9. Jeff Rubard

    Jeff Rubard Guest

    On Tue, 24 Feb 2004 22:34:11 +0000, Jeff Rubard wrote:

    > Andy Dingley wrote:
    >> On 20 Feb 2004 14:14:00 -0800, (Jeff Rubard)
    >> wrote:
    >>
    >>
    >>>>P.S. By the way, who is Eric (not Tony)?
    >>>
    >>>Seriously, who is this guy? Is this the British Oskar Lafontaine?

    >>
    >>
    >> Google for Eric+Orwell+pseudonym

    >
    > Okay.
    >
    > Simplicio: Questo non può essere, perché le generatzioni, mutatzioni
    > etc. che si facesser, verbigrazia, nella Luna, sarebber inutile e vane,
    > <<et natura nihil frustra facit>>.
    >
    > I look not for a substantive faculty, but for the generations, mutations
    > and the like: what it lights upon, joyful noise, a moon of cilia, would
    > useless and accessible <<and nature causes nothing in vain>>.
    >
    > Galileo, *Dialogues*


    I guess that's not how it works at all, though.
     
    Jeff Rubard, Feb 28, 2004
    #9
  10. Jeff Rubard

    Jeff Rubard Guest

    Jeff Rubard wrote:
    > On Tue, 24 Feb 2004 22:34:11 +0000, Jeff Rubard wrote:
    >
    >
    >>Andy Dingley wrote:
    >>
    >>>On 20 Feb 2004 14:14:00 -0800, (Jeff Rubard)
    >>>wrote:
    >>>
    >>>
    >>>
    >>>>>P.S. By the way, who is Eric (not Tony)?
    >>>>
    >>>>Seriously, who is this guy? Is this the British Oskar Lafontaine?
    >>>
    >>>
    >>>Google for Eric+Orwell+pseudonym

    >>
    >>Okay.
    >>
    >>Simplicio: Questo non può essere, perché le generatzioni, mutatzioni
    >>etc. che si facesser, verbigrazia, nella Luna, sarebber inutile e vane,
    >><<et natura nihil frustra facit>>.
    >>
    >>I look not for a substantive faculty, but for the generations, mutations
    >>and the like: what it lights upon, joyful noise, a moon of cilia, would
    >>useless and accessible <<and nature causes nothing in vain>>.
    >>
    >>Galileo, *Dialogues*

    >
    >
    > I guess that's not how it works at all, though.


    That is, as long as you don't remember the Marne and Ferdinand Foch,
    as per the joke.
     
    Jeff Rubard, Mar 1, 2004
    #10
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