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Fw: W3C-transformation language petition

Subject: Fw: W3C-transformation language petition
From: "Oren Ben-Kiki" <oren@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 15:45:52 +0200

Guy_Murphy@xxxxxxxxxx wrote:
>The FOs are formatting not styling, so XSL has transformation and

Right on.

>I continue to maintian that styling *is* transformation and formatting, and
>that the two parts are therefore requesite for a styling language

>You seem to be using the likes of CSS as the yardstick for what a style
>language is. I'd suggest that such is a poor measurment as IMHO CSS is
>*not* a style language but a formatting language.

Is it really benefitial to argue about what the meaning of the word
"styling" is this week? We'd end up quoting from the Oxford English
dictionary, and what good would that do?

Instead, we should worry about the right way to structure XML application
with graphical display. Should we use the XSL/FO approach or the CSS
approach (possibly enhanced by "XTL")? The W3C hasn't decided, otherwise it
wouldn't be promoting both XSL and CSS.

It seems as though the W3C has decided instead to let both approaches
compete in the marketplace, and presumably in a year or two it would become
clear which one wins. At which point the W3C will update its standards to
reflect the situation. It isn't as if this hasn't happened before.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, we might get a better
standard in a few years. On the other hand, we face an increased risk that
systems implemented today might have to be reworked if they bet on the wrong

What I'd _really_ like is for the W3C to make some sort of an official
reference to this issue and clear up what their position is. So far, we are
forced to second guess their moves - and given they are promoting both
approaches at once, this doesn't work too well.

>I further believe that if we weaken the unified nature of XSL as a styling
>language we let Microsoft and Netscape off the hook, and all we are ever
>likely to see is XML and CSS for formatting.

It is just to be expected - the W3C is letting the commercial companies to
make its decisions for it, so they do. What makes it ironic is that the same
companies have a lot of say within the W3C. It would seem simpler for them
to simply sway the W3C to their point of view. Go figure. I'm sure there is
an reasonable explanation at some level :-)

>For the CSS advocate this might be an attractive prospect, and they need
>not knock the aspirations of the XSL advocate as they already have XML/CSS.
>For those however, that are hoping that we might one day see the Web used
>as a rich media delivery and navigation mechanism, irrespective of voice,
>print or screen utilisation, CSS cannot be seen to be up to the job for XML
>styling. We must therefore push for actualisation of a complete XSL
>solution for XML styling.

I have still not seen any technical reasons as to why the CSS approach is
inferior to the XSL one. It is obvious that any functionality possible with
FOs is also possible using attached "style" attributes to arbitrary XML
elements. The only problem is that CSS does not provide the full set of
attributes necessary. So, in case the above scenario does materialize, these
attributs would have to be added. CSS isn't _necessarily_ the disaster the
current implementations make it to be.

And, of course, the syntax of CSS should be replaced by an XML compliant one

Have fun,

    Oren Ben-Kiki

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