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Re: Debug Support in XSL (WAS RE: XML Extensibility / XML Schemas)

  • From: "G. Ken Holman" <gkholman@C...>
  • To: xml-dev@l...
  • Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 11:15:56 -0400

debugging declarative language
At 00/08/25 09:41 -0500, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>Do you or anyone else know if these WYSIWYG XSL
>editors will be handling the complexities of
>authoring and debugging the XSL transforms?

Personally, I don't, which is why I'm anxious to see what Whitehill offers 
to see the way they support their claims.  It is exciting to think these 
tools are on their way.

I have seen "editing assistants" which walk you through the authoring 
process giving you a montage of what you're working with, what you've done 
in your stylesheet, and the results therefrom ... but I don't use them 
myself and I wouldn't necessarily call them WYSIWYG editors from my 
personal sense of what is needed.  See eXcelon Corp's Stylus 
http://www.eXcelonCorp.com/products/excelon_stylus.html and IBM's 
http://www.alphaWorks.ibm.com/tech/xsleditor for the only two examples I am 
aware of (though I haven't used either of them myself).  I'm sure these 
tools are very useful for many people.

I feel that an editing assistant works in the paradigm of the declarative 
language.  Some may indeed have drag-and-drop interfaces and WYSIWYG panes 
on the canvas.

But, I figure true WYSIWYG editing goes beyond editing assistance in that 
the paradigm presented to the user needs to be focused on the result 
objective and not on the declarative language used by the tool.

.... which is the rub!  There will *always* be the need to work with the 
declarative language, and any such tool that "hides" the declarative 
language *must* be able to accommodate it or accommodate the users who 
themselves need to work with the declarative language in concert with the 

Those of you familiar with my background with my former employer may be 
hearing this as an echo from me (please don't laugh!) and may understand 
why I hold a personal conviction that true unstructured graphical user 
interfaces to structured declarative languages are a tough nut to 
crack.  Graphical editing of document models (DTDs) is the parallel I'm 
thinking of regarding graphical editing of stylesheets.

I haven't seen a fully-enough-featured environment yet, myself, for either 
environment ... I hope that is just my naïveté.

I've decided that the problem when you focus on the user who doesn't want 
to know or work with the underlying declarative language is that you don't 
(can't?) properly address the needs of the user who needs to know and work 
with the underlying declarative language.  If a company can successfully 
address both, then they've cracked that nut!

Which is why I think my training licensees and I will long have a market 
for XSLT language instructor-led training. :{)}

>is where our folks are complaining loudest: the
>debug environments.

I'm sure!

Note that editing assistants may be quite useful for debugging ... which 
more often, I think, needs the language paradigm rather than the result 

I hope this helps.

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

G. Ken Holman                    mailto:gkholman@C...
Crane Softwrights Ltd.             http://www.CraneSoftwrights.com/x/
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 ISBN1-894049-05-5
Article:          What is XSLT? http://www.xml.com/pub/2000/08/holman
Next public instructor-led training:     2000-09-19/20,2000-10-03/05,
-        2000-10-09/10,2000-10-19,2000-11-12,2000-12-03/04,2001-01-27


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