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Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful

Subject: Re: Formatting Objects considered harmful
From: Ian Hickson <py8ieh@xxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 19:54:01 +0100 (BST)

On Thu, 22 Apr 1999, Simon St.Laurent wrote:
> I guess the next question for the W3C is whether this fits with Tim
> Berners-Lee's vision of the Web.  It doesn't sound to me like it does,
> based on the speeches and writings I've seen, but who knows.  And if
> the W3C doesn't provide it, I'm sure someone else will.

You can already do the semantically rich data publishing using W3C

   Raw Semantically Rich XML Document
   XSTL Transformation
   Transformed but Still Semantically Rich XML Document
   with Out-of-line CSS Stylesheet
   Published Information

The transformed document (i.e. the XSTL output) would use a DTD
probably very similar to the original XML document, but with
additional elements to allow the CSS stylesheet to access parts of the
data which were not explicitly marked up by the original document.

For example, the following XML fragment body:
   <heading> Title </heading>
     <link href="#d"> DEF </link>
     <link href="#a"> ABC </link>

...might get transformed to this:

   <container class="header">
     <heading> Title </heading>
       <link href="#a"> ABC </link>
       <link href="#d"> DEF </link>

...and then the stylesheet might say:

   container[class=header] { border: solid; padding: 1em; }
   heading, contents { display: block; }

The net result is a richly styled document (as would be obtained using
FOs), but with the following advantages:

   * the output retains the original semantics
   * the output is not tied to a specific medium
   * the styling can be modified by the user

Note that this is already possible (after all, IE5 already "supports"
XSTL and CSS to some degree), and that - AFAICT - all FO constructs
are either directly present in CSS or easily emulated using the
transformation step.

In short, I agree with Håkon and Simon on this issue...

Ian Hickson 
U+2642 U+2651
U+262E U+2603 U+263A

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