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Re: `High-level' format specifications with XSL?

Subject: Re: `High-level' format specifications with XSL?
From: Paul Grosso <paul@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 1998 10:02:31 -0400
paul grosso
At 14:40 1998 07 03 -0400, Paul Prescod wrote:
>Paul Grosso wrote:
>> In other words, the whole point of a stylesheet is to be able to specify
>> what "good-looking output" should look like in your opinion.  You (or
>> whoever writes a stylesheet) *has* to think about it.  If you don't want
>> to think about it yourself, you don't want to write a stylesheet.
>That is not true. Writing a stylesheet is a necessary precondition of
>getting a reasonable printed rendition out of an XML document. That's all
>he wants. He doesn't want to become a style designer. He just wants to
>print his document out!

I probably worded things poorly above.  The key point I was trying to
make is that XML by itself has no presentational semantics, and the 
point of a stylesheet is precisely to allow the association of presentation 
(and perhaps other) semantics with arbitrary XML.  So saying you want a
stylesheet language that doesn't require you to specify presentational
semantics is an oxymoron.

>Kai Grossjohann <grossjohann@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>I am not primarily thinking about printing my documents out, I'm
>thinking of on-screen presentation.  In a Web browser.

If by "Web browser" you mean something that has built-in processing
for the HTML tag set, then you aren't really wanting a stylesheet
language.  You want some way to map your XML into HTML--perhaps
augmented by CSS and/or some script--that the browser will handle.

And it just so happens that the transformation capabilities of XSL 
may be able to help here.

>One additional aspect that comes to mind for on-screen presentation is
>that different users like different fonts in their Web browsers.  I
>don't want to make them use the fonts I like, I want them to be able
>to choose theirs.  And I want to make them be able to choose whether
>they like their headings green or blue or bold or italic or underlined
>or ... you get the idea.  And I want the users to be able to choose
>their spacing, too!  And the justification of the text, and so on.

I'm not sure where "the users" come into your scenario.  Are they
producing the XML, writing style or transformation specs, viewing
the results in a browser, or all of the above?  How is it that you
expect the users to choose fonts and spacing and so on?

>My original try of writing an XSL stylesheet with HTML flow objects
>(DIV and SPAN, mostly) resulted in a Web page shown in ten point Times
>Roman, not the fourteen point Palatino I have told my Netscape to
>show.  This leads me to thinking that XSL stylesheets with HTML flow
>objects do not produce HTML pages of the kind where users can choose
>their favorite rendering.

XSL transformation specs that map XML into XML-using-the-HTML-tagset
can insert CSS style info into the generated XML thereby specifying
the font and so on.  If the browser in question supports CSS, then
you should see what you want.

In this transformation mode, what you end up seeing in a browser has
almost nothing to do with the "capabilities" of XSL, since the XSL
transformation spec is just specifying an arbitrary transformation
process.  If you don't like what you see as a result, that is due
either to the fact that the specified transformation isn't generating
what is necessary or the browser isn't displaying it as you hoped.

 XSL-List info and archive:  http://www.mulberrytech.com/xsl/xsl-list

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