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   RE: [xml-dev] Re: XML and Complex Systems (was Re: [xml-dev] Re: An Arc

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At 9:09 AM -0600 1/14/02, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>Dare sends
>"the following article by Tom Moertl is a succint summary of the
>issues with XSLT that I've heard developers voice and that I've had myself"
>     http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/1/13/223854/606
>which summarizes:
>"If there is a lesson to be learned, it's that domain-specific 
>language design is hard. The XSLT designers created a language that 
>lacked much of the nuts-and-bolts functionality necessary to make it 
>genuinely suited for its intended purpose. While the designers 
>doubtless left this functionality out of the spec on the grounds 
>that XSLT isn't intended to be a general-purpose programming 
>language, they failed to realize that even simple document 
>transformations often require a little nuts-and-bolts programming. 
>Leaving out the nuts and bolts made XSLT a broken language.

Much more important is that his test case is:

XML documents contain (among other things) text phrases that must be 
converted into equivalent LaTeX phrases. Some text phrases, such as 
"&" and "$" have special meaning to LaTeX and thus must be escaped 
during processing. Others represent text idioms like "(C)" that must 
be mapped to their LaTeX equivalents ("\copyright{}").

In other words he wants to do string manipulations on unmarked up 
text. Furthermore, his output format is not XML, but LaTeX. Moertl is 
taking XSLT and using it to do exactly what it was designed not to 
do. He is completely confused about what the intended purpose of XSLT 
actually is. It was never intended to do what he wants it to do. It 
shouldn't be a surprise he has trouble. Nor should this be considered 
a knock on XSLT, since none of his use cases are something XSLT was 
ever intended to handle.

This article is the rough equivalent of a review of giving a toaster 
oven a bad review because it won't wash dishes.

| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo@metalab.unc.edu | Writer/Programmer |
|          The XML Bible, 2nd Edition (Hungry Minds, 2001)           |
|              http://www.ibiblio.org/xml/books/bible2/              |
|   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=0764547607/cafeaulaitA/   |
|  Read Cafe au Lait for Java News:  http://www.cafeaulait.org/      |
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