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Subject cvs commit: xml-cocoon/xdocs infrastructure.xml
Date Wed, 09 Feb 2000 21:11:36 GMT
stefano     00/02/09 13:11:36

  Added:       xdocs    infrastructure.xml
  added intrastucture document
  Thanks to Philippe Lavoie for writing this (but next, time, damn it! validate it first!!!!)
  Revision  Changes    Path
  1.1                  xml-cocoon/xdocs/infrastructure.xml
  Index: infrastructure.xml
  <!DOCTYPE document SYSTEM "./dtd/document-v10.dtd"> 
    <subtitle>An XML publishing Infrastructure</subtitle>
     <person name="Philippe Lavoie" email=""/>
  <s1 title="A Publishing Infrastructure">
  <p>The Cocoon project aims at changing the way web information is
  created, rendered and served. This new paradigm is based on the fact
  that document content, style and logic are often created by different
  individuals or working groups. Cocoon's goal of a complete separation
  of the three layers, allows them to be independently designed, created
  and managed. This reduces management overhead, increases work reuse
  and reduces time to market.</p>
  <p>The Cocoon publishing model is heavily based on the XSLT
  transformation capabilities. XSLT allows complete separation of
  content and style (something that is much harder to obtain with HTML,
  even using CSS2 or other styling technologies). But Cocoon goes
  further and defines a way of separating content and style from the
  programming logic that drives server side behavior.</p>
  <p>This fact has been widely acknowledge by most major vendors:
  Microsoft, IBM, SUN, Oracle, etc. All of these vendors offer XML and
  XSL processors. Cocoon uses these technologies and incorporates them
  into a publishing infrastructure. </p>
  <p>An infrastructure must have these characteristics:</p>
    <li>pervasive scope</li>
    <li>standardize access points</li>
    <li>minimal (almost zero) user intervention</li>
    <li>transparent service provision</li>
    <li>applicability to existing and future applications</li>
  <p>Cocoon has a pervasive scope as it address all aspects of the web
  publishing needs. Even if the most common use of Cocoon is the
  automatic creation of HTML (and XHTML) through the processing of
  statically or dynamically generated XML files, Cocoon is also able to
  perform more sophisticated formatting, such as XSL:FO rendering on
  PDF, client-depending transformations such as WML formatting for
  WAP-enabled devices or direct XML serving to XML and XSL aware
  clients. Cocoon can even apply different stylesheets to a unique XML
  content based on the requesting client.</p>
  <p>Once installed on a web server such as Site Server, Apache or
  Netscape. Cocoon doesn't require any user intervention. It is there
  and usable for content publishing. Only when creating custom XML
  processor does one need to touch Cocoon itself.</p>
  <p>Cocoon offers transparent services with its API available through a
  simple XML syntax suitable for most of any users needs. With the more
  specialized needs a simple and effective Java interface provides the
  access needed for a more powerful manipulation of XML elements.</p>
  <p>Finally, Cocoon is applicable to existing and future
  applications. This is due in part to the fact that XML is the glue
  used to connect most of the parts together; ensuring a long life to
  the content and an easy interface to current applications. The way
  Cocoon handles dynamic site creation also enhances Cocoon's
  applicability to current and future applications needs.</p>
  <s1 title="Publishing Static Content">
  <p>Cocoon can apply different stylesheets to different clients. In the
  more esoteric examples, it allows one to create a WML and HTML output
  version of the same content file. In most cases, HTML is the desired
  output. The reason is that unless the XML and XSL aware client can
  understand the same version of the standard as the one Cocoon is using
  (XML 1.0 and XSLT 1.0) then only HTML can be truly be seen as a
  suitable output for today's web publishing needs. </p>
  <p>This means that server side processing of the XML content files are
  needed. This is done by creating an XML and an appropriate XSL
  file. This is the standard way of generating HTML files from XML
  content.  What Cocoon offers is a transparent way of doing this
  processing. There is no need to write an ASP, JSP or CGI to call an
  XML parser and then process the output with an XSL processor. This is
  automatically handled by Cocoon's infrastructure.</p>
  <p>In that infrastructure, it is possible to chain calls to XSLT
  processors.  This has the possibly great advantage of separating all
  the layers of the publishing needs: flow, layout and display. A user
  concentrates on writing a content file. Cocoon can then call a first
  transformation that deals with the flow. The flow transformation
  usually adds menus suitable for a directory, a whole site or any
  special need of the content file. The flow transformation can then
  call a layout transformation sheet. That sheet will add more layout
  information such as headers, footers, color schemes, etc. Finally the
  display transformation would handle the actual HTML transformation
  from the output of all the previous processing.</p>
  <p>Although the previous example is overkill for most web sites
  needs, Cocoon's effective caching system ensures that multiple XSLT
  transformations do not hinder in any way the speed at which they are
  presented to the user. The transformation is done once and the
  resulting HTML output is presented many times.</p>
  <p>Cocoon's infrastructure can also be applied to an offline
  scenario. This generates HTML files in the case of web sites. However
  a very complex processing can be performed on the XML files, a
  processing that might be too time consuming on runtime scenarios:
  automatic image generation, flow generation by directory analysis,
  etc. An example of an offline scenario can be seen at Cocoon's site
  (<link href=""></link>). On that site, the menus and headers
  are automatically generated by processing XML content files, this
  allows for a more professional look and feel, yet it doesn't require
  an artist each time a label changes.</p>
  <s1 title="Publishing Dynamic Content">
  <p>In dynamic content generation technology, content and logic are
  combined: in every page there is a mix of static content and dynamic
  logic that work together to create the final result, usually using
  run-time or time-dependent input. XSP is no exception, since it
  defines a syntax to mix static content and programmatic logic in a way
  that is independent of both the programming language used and the
  binary results that the final source-rendering generated.</p>
  <p>But it must be understood that XSP is just a piece of the
  framework: exactly like how formatting objects mix style and content,
  XSP objects mix logic and content. On the other hand, since both are
  XML DTDs, XSLT can be used to move from pure content to these final
  DTDs, placing the style and logic on the transformation layers and
  guaranteeing complete separation and easier maintenance.</p>
  <p>Other ways to create dynamic content is through XSP taglib,
  processors and formatters. XSP taglib allows cocoon to map XML elements
  to processing instructions. The custom cocoon processors can go
  through an XML document and modify its content. Finally, the formatters
  are used to generate XML documents based on a user's request and
  its session information.</p>
  <p>Together these elements offer the equivalent of COM and CORBA. They
  offer a way to solve the interoperability problem between different
  applications. In the Cocoon infrastructure, XML becomes the API from
  which other components are called. Whether COM, CORBA, Java or any
  other language is actually called becomes transparent to the user. The
  user only needs to know about the XML API which, by definition, should
  thrive to be human readable. This makes debugging and maintenance a
  lot easier.</p>
  <p>This approach to dynamic content generation is quite different from
  other methods. The typical method prone by SUN and Microsoft is to
  generate and XML output from a servlet or ASP page, then process it
  with an XSLT processor. Some of the drawbacks of that method are:</p>
  <li>Logic and content are mixed. Editing such a file requires more
  senior programmers than editing a simple XML file.</li>
  <li>There is no proper multiple XSLT processing. This can be
  individually programmed, however it is a difficult problem and might
  prevent some web servers from effectively caching the output.</li>
  <li>The XML output must be display friendly. This means that the
  output XML must be easily understandable by the final XSLT file to
  generate a suitable HTML file. Sometimes, an XML element must be
  converted to be more suitable to a given display context. This process
  can be automated inside Cocoon by adding XSLT transformations and
  adding display <em>hints</em>. However, inside a JSP or ASP page,
  programmers will tend to write more in term of the display and less of
  the semantic.</li>
  <li>Reusability is limited. With Cocoon's approach, it is
  straightforward for a content writer to add a &lt;locale:date&gt; tag
  inside his document. That tag will call the proper functionality
  required to display the current date in the user's current
  locale. Without Cocoon, this becomes a lot more cumbersome since the
  programmer must explicitly call the proper functions and incorporate
  the result inside the XML output stream. In that case, locale
  considerations might not have been made across the site, this is
  difficult to check with the content mixed with the logic.</li>
  <s1 title="Conclusion">
   <p>The Cocoon model allows web sites to be highly structured and well
   designed, reducing duplication efforts and site management costs by
   allowing different presentations of the same data depending on the
   requesting client (HTML clients, PDF clients, WML clients) and
   separating on different contexts different requirements, skills and
   capacities. Cocoon allows a better human resource management by
   giving to each individual its job and reducing to a minimum the
   cross-talks between different working contexts.</p>
  <p>To do this, the Cocoon model divides the development of web content
  in three separate levels:</p>
  <dt>XML creation</dt>
  <dd>the XML file is created by the content
  owners. They do not require specific knowledge on how the XML content
  is further processed rather than the particular chosen
  DTD/namespace. This is done through human intervention or through
  dynamic generation.</dd>
  <dt>XML processing</dt>
  <dd>the requested XML file is processed and
  the logic contained in its logicsheet is applied. Unlike other dynamic
  content generators, the logic is separated from the content
  <dt>XSL rendering</dt>
  <dd>the created document is then rendered by
  applying an XSL stylesheet to it and formatting it to the specified
  resource type (HTML, PDF, XML, WML, XHTML)</dd>
  <p>Unlike other XML projects, Cocoon concentrates on solving the
  publishing infrastructure problem. In that respect it is ahead of a
  lot of the major vendors that up to now seem to only worry about the
  technology needed and less about how it integrates into a publishing

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