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Re: Why transformation?

Subject: Re: Why transformation?
From: Denys Duchier <Denys.Duchier@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: 01 Oct 1998 12:25:05 +0200

Personally, I am not at all interested in the formatting aspect of
XSL. I am perfectly happy leaving the formatting up to some backend
processor such as LaTeX or a web browser.  However, I am very
interested in transformations that will convert my documents into the
format expected by these backends, and provide all the added value
expected by readers.  It's true that you can use scripting, but the
solutions tend to be adhoc and, of necessity, language specific -
therefore, hard to combine/reuse.  DSSSL is way too complicated.  XSL
provides a simple and attractive level of abstraction for scripting
transformations on trees.  Our experience has been that hacking
increasingly many features into one `scripting' processor is not the
right solution.  We want to restructure our processor into a
`pipe-line' of transformations, which will simplify the maintenance
and give us extensibility for free.  Most of these transformations can
be expressed simply as xsl stylesheets - the stylesheets are reusable
regardless of the programming language implementing the xsl engine.

Some small parts of our transformation process are not expressible as
xsl stylesheets; at least not yet.  For example: since our
documentation is for a programming system, we have lots of code
fragments, in many different programming languages.  For pleasant
online reading, we highlight these code fragments according to the
programming language:  to achieve this, we invoke emacs as a
subprocess of the processor and use font-lock-mode to highlight the
code.  The result is then turned into a new grove fragment that is
inserted back into our document tree.  The ability to delegate a
transformation to what I shall call a `foreign macro' for lack of a
better term is still lacking in xsl.


Dr. Denys Duchier			Denys.Duchier@xxxxxxxxxxxx
Forschungsbereich Programmiersysteme	(Programming Systems Lab)
Universitaet des Saarlandes, Geb. 45
Postfach 15 11 50			Phone: +49 681 302 5618
66041 Saarbruecken, Germany		Fax:   +49 681 302 5615

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