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   Re: Future of Formatting Objects (XSL/FO)

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  • From: "Jon Smirl" <jonsmirl@mediaone.net>
  • To: <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 11:46:45 -0400

I'm a developer who has contributed some code to help support XSL-FO via
FOP. In my opinion XSL-FO is going to die if it remains pigeon-holed as a
print only spec. To achieve success the XSL-FO concept has to be extended
into the browsers.

Right now browsers are spec'ed in a somewhat monolithic form via HTML and
CSS2/3. But there's another way to look the specification of a UI for a
browser. At the lowest level of the spec there would be SVG. SVG is the 2-D
layout language comparable to GDI or X. All of the higher layers would then
be defined in terms of SVG.

In this model XSL-FO would be spec'ed as being transformed into SVG before
rendering. Note that I say spec'ed, not implemented. XSL-FO would need to be
extended with an event model and DOM but that wouldn't be hard. It may even
be possible to define the reference model as an XSLT transform.

And finally, HTML/CSS would be spec'ed in terms of rendering to the
XSL-FO/SVG model.

The alternative is the XML/CSS3 model which is really the same model but
just twisted around a little. The problem with the CSS syntax is that it
can't be transformed via XSLT. On the plus side CSS3 and XSL-FO have the
same formatting model.

Personally I'd like to see SVG ==> XSL-FO  =optionally=> HTML/CSS become the
unified rendering/DOM/event standard from the W3C. This would allow a core
browser to be developed that could easily be ported by reimplementing the
SVG layer. From this same core it would be easy to implement PDF output
also. A unified XML model at all layers would be a major blessing.

If XSL-FO dies, then I'll need to look at building a HTML/CSS3 to PDF

Jon Smirl

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