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Re: distinguish whether variable holds string or node

Subject: Re: distinguish whether variable holds string or node set
From: Michael Kay <mike@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 14 Jun 2010 09:21:02 +0100
Re:  distinguish whether variable holds string or node
Well, then I'd rather stick to the "adopted standard". (Why is XSLT 2
so badly supported?)

Poor choice of words there. No-one supports XSLT 2.0 badly; they either support it well, or not at all.

If you mean, why have so few people implemented XSLT 2.0, then I think you have to ask the question "Why has company|person X not implemented XSLT 2.0" for a number of values of X, and then see if there is any commonality in the answers.

For the browser vendors, I think the answer is that none of them is particularly interested in making the first move. You don't get competitive advantage in the browser space by being the first to support new standards. There's a built-in inertia here that's a great drag on the industry.

For Microsoft, the answer is that they lost interest in XSLT, largely because they became over-enthusiastic about their own proprietary languages, and because of various power shifts between the various internal groups interested in XML technology. But that's me trying to read the tea-leaves: only Microsoft can give you the inside story, and I doubt they ever will.

For a lot of the people who produced open-source XSLT 1.0 engines, I think you'll find that they did the 1.0 version for fun, or in a vague hope that they might find some unspecified revenue stream as a spin-off, perhaps having greatly underestimated the size of the task; and having done it, with a lot of hard work, a lot of fun, a lot of lost week-ends, and no revenue, they weren't inclined to start all over again.

But five XSLT 2.0 engines have been shipped, or five-and-a-half if you count Oracle, and I know of four more that are under development; if we get to the point where there are nine separately-developed implementations then we will have achieved far more than most programming language standards. And although some users are still sticking to XSLT 1.0 because that's the only thing supported in their favourite environment, a great many more have made the shift and are very pleased with the productivity benefits that it brings.

Michael Kay

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