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> I've used SQL, C++, Java, and C# to write medium sized applications and have never read any of the actual standards or specification documents yet managed to be rather productive with most of my problems being due to errors on my part than due to complexity or design of the language/technology at hand.
This statement astonishes me. C++ is less complex than XSLT?
I worked in C++ and Java in the very early days, before there was any significant mass of user-friendly tomes. I had to refer to the specs quite often in both cases. Luckily, both (The Java 0.9 specification and Stroustroup's Annotated Reference Manual) were quite well written. Better written than W3C specs are.
If I compare that experience to my early involvement in XSLT, DOM, SAX, etc., all of which predated *any* published book on these, I cannot imagine that I would consider that the problems due to language complexity outstripped problems due to my own thickness in any proportion.
At Fourthought, we do a heavy traffic in XSLT work. Yes, Mike Champion, this involves meeting real-world requirements for clients who have no truck with XML geekdom. Based on observations of my colleagues, and of client developers whom we train and assist, I have quite a contrary impression to your.
I don't use C#, so I can't judge, but I use SQL a lot, and it ties my head in knots as often as XSLT does. I don't necessarily consider this a failing in SQL. Luckily for me, I started heavy lifting with SQL long after many good books were available (and at a time when Usenet produced very ready answers to almost all the nasty problems I encountered with the language).
Uche Ogbuji Principal Consultant
email@example.com +1 720 320 2046
Fourthought, Inc. http://Fourthought.com
4735 East Walnut St, Boulder, CO 80301-2537, USA
XML strategy, XML tools (http://4Suite.org), knowledge management