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XSL Companion, The

A book by Neil Bradley

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A thorough explanation of an important and emerging skill

  • Dec 23, 2000
Rating:
+3
XSL, an acronym for eXtensible Stylesheet Language, is a way to perform transformations on code. It can be used to create HTML code for display and to convert XML code from one form to another. More precisely, an XSLT (XSL Transformations) processor will accept code in XSLT and data in XML and will convert the combination into an XSL document. Once this is done, an XSL processor will interpret the XSL instructions and render it into a document that is presented on paper or screen via a browser. The end result will be that XML data is converted into other formats. While not quite precise, the general practice has been to refer to all these operations as being under the XSL naming umbrella.
This complete process is done by writing a set of rules that the processors must follow. In this book, the significant rules in the XSL language are demonstrated. XSL is a very rich language, containing constructs that all programmers will recognize, albeit in most cases in an altered form. The rules follow the general tag syntax of HTML, so the only background needed to understand them is a solid grounding in the structure and purpose of standard HTML tags.
The goal of the author is to present the organizational structure and specific tags that are used to perform the operations that can be done with XSL code. Therefore, no time is spent in demonstrating how rules will be rendered in a specific XSLT or XSL processor. This was a very wise decision, in that it takes enough effort to simply describe the purpose of the tags and how they relate to each other. An attempt to demonstrate how the result appears in any specific package would not have appreciably added to the effectiveness of the presentation and would no doubt have left some group unhappy.
The rules are thoroughly explained with code examples for almost every topic covered. They are short, showing the purpose of the structure, but sometimes they lack a bit in showing the complete context of use. Of course the rules are local, but like many programming commands, when implemented they can only be completely understood in a broader context.
With the large number of major players now backing and implementing solutions using XML, knowledge of XSL and XSLT is a skill worth having. This book will help you learn them, however it does not have coded examples to run, which will make it more difficult to learn from than some other, do it yourself books. That aside, it is still worth reading and I strongly recommend it.

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More XSL Companion, The reviews
review by . November 23, 2002
For the XML developer this book is a perfect companion. It makes no real pretense to teach XSL, and if you're looking for such a book this is not it. What it does is provide developers of basic-to-advanced skill levels with tips, advice and clear explanations for using XSL in accordance with the XSLT standard, including XSLT, XPath and XSL.What makes this book valuable as a reference and 'cookbook' is the examples, stylistic approaches that are based on sound software engineering practices, and …
review by . November 23, 2002
For the XML developer this book is a perfect companion. It makes no real pretense to teach XSL, and if you're looking for such a book this is not it. What it does is provide developers of basic-to-advanced skill levels with tips, advice and clear explanations for using XSL in accordance with the XSLT standard, including XSLT, XPath and XSL.What makes this book valuable as a reference and 'cookbook' is the examples, stylistic approaches that are based on sound software engineering practices, and …
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Charles Ashbacher ()
Ranked #78
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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About this book

Wiki

One of the most important technologies on the XML bandwagon is XSL, which really comprises separate XSL, XSLT, and Xpath standards.The XSL Companionprovides in-depth coverage of XSL and XSLT--the core technologies behind the formatting of XML data.

This book focuses on the details of how XSLT in particular can be used to mold information on the fly. The author breaks the standard apart into digestible chapters that cover, say, "contextual formatting" and "sorting." The content is fast moving and demands a technical reader who is comfortable with complexity. Those who are new to XML technologies should pick up a general tutorial prior to tackling this book.

Along with text explanations of all of the magic that XSLT and XSL can do, the author uses code snippets and numerous graphical diagrams to illustrate information processing, layout, and tree navigation. These visual elements add much to the explanation of what otherwise would be abstract concepts indeed.

The author addresses head-on the fact that much of XSLT's job today is to turn XML data into HTML-formatted documents that are compatible with the current batch of browsers. There is plenty of focus in this book on how that is done, but the chief purpose remains the exploration of the powerful transformation and formatting features that the XSL standards provide. --Stephen W. Plain

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Details

ISBN-10: 0201674874
ISBN-13: 978-0201674873
Author: Neil Bradley
Genre: Computers & Internet
Publisher: Pearson Education
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