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From Donald Ball <>
Subject Re: [RT] Layout-driven vs. content-driven
Date Fri, 03 Mar 2000 04:37:17 GMT
On Fri, 3 Mar 2000, Niclas Hedhman wrote:

> Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:
> > FO is great, IMO, but it's a pain to learn from the spec... almost
> > impossible without visual descriptions of the formatting layout. But as
> > soon as you have visual tools for that... shees, have you seen the SVG
> > example with the Adobe SVG Viewer as Netscape plugin? no?
> I just read an article by Michael Leventhal
> ( regarding XSL in general, and FO in
> particular.
> It is a bit old, but I think it is relevant in our context.
> (terribly slow site...)
> Sad(?) to say; he managed to convince me on a lot of points.
> The article put forward some challenges, and I would like to see what
> kind of arguments the Cocoon users/developers have to defend their
> choice, or have we all been blinded by a "XSL anti-pattern"??

I think we all agree that we need seperation of content and design. XML
gives us a data management layer, these articles are questioning the use
of XSLT as the data presentation layer. They seem to be advocating CSS and
client-side javascript as their alternative. That may well be a good
solution for some applications, but I prefer usually XSLT. Why?

1. XSLT is general - it allows you to transform XML into other XML or
HTML. CSS+javascript is fairly closely tied to the 2D graphical browser
window paradigm.

2. XSLT is XML. CSS is not. Is there any good reason to learn and use two
different syntaxes? 

3. Clients are stupid and untrustworthy and will always lag years behind
the state of the art. You can do XSLT on the server side. I'm not aware of
any packages for applying CSS or positing elements with javascript on the
server side. Plus I hate having to kludge together client-specific
javascript to accomodate differing implementations over which I have no
control - it's ugly, dangerous, and not maintainable.

4. XSLT is a beautiful language. CSS+javascript isn't. (big IMHO of

Note that the articles tend to confuse XSLT and XSL:FO, which is only to
be expected since they used to be stuck together. I think XSLT is the
deal, but I don't understand or particularly like XSL:FO.

- donald

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