XSLT and the 80/20 point (was RE: Tim Bray on "Which Technologies Matter
Mike Champion wrote: > Are there any successful technologies that didn't hit an 80/20 point that > succeeded because of management, investor, programmer, early > implementation, > or military support? The only examples I can think of are Windows, C++, > and XSLT. Windows didn't have any competition, C++ immediately attracted > competitors that quite successfully attacked it at the 80/20 point, and > XSLT's 80/20 point is what people actually use. I know that identifying the 80/20 point is a subjective endeavor, but I don't think your implicit assertion that XSLT 1.0 did not hit an 80/20 point should go unchallenged. I think one of the criteria for hitting an 80/20 point is the clear exclusion of things, even obvious things, that would be quite useful. On the other hand, difficulty of comprehension should not be a criterion. XSLT is a difficult language, because its most powerful mechanism--template rules--is new and unusual to many programmers, and therefore hard to learn. There are a number of obvious, powerful things such as user-defined functions, RTF-node-set conversions, certain built-in functions, etc. that were left out of the language in order to keep it small. When you consider, for example, that XPath 1.0 includes a starts-with() function but not ends-with(), it becomes pretty obvious that the bias of the language designers was a quite conservative one. Certainly early implementations profoundly contributed to XSLT's success. But I also believe it has something to do with the size of the language. Note that these two things may have some relationship! In addition, once you've understood the most fundamental concept of XSLT (how template rules work), it is a language that can be learned and comprehended in its entirety. Note that I'm specifically referring to XSLT/XPath 1.0. I'm not yet ready to make the same claim about XPath 2.0 (whose specification currently consists of over 10 times as many pages and 5 times as many functions as 1.0). Evan
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