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RE: [xml-dev] Saxon and Sun Serializer problems?

> > From http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/REC-xslt-19991116
> >
>  XSLT is not intended as a completely general-purpose XML
>  transformation language. Rather it is designed primarily
>  for the kinds of transformations that are needed when XSLT
>  is used as part of XSL.

I often quote this sentence as an example of where you need to read between
the lines of a specification. Although I have no specific knowledge of how
this sentence came to be there, I have always imagined that it was probably
added as a result of a somewhat inconclusive debate about some language
feature that someone considered either too general-purpose or too
special-purpose; such a discussion about one specific feature can quickly
degenerate into a philosophical discussion about the general strategy,
probably with two people taking strongly opposed views and everyone else
looking at their watches and wondering how long it will go on; after wasting
a couple of hours on such a discussion, no-one likes to close it without an
action, so the chair calls a vote and a sentence like this gets added to the
spec to reflect the majority view. Note the caveats: "completely",
"primarily". What such a sentence tells you is not that the WG had a clear
view on the matter, but rather the converse: that the question was
considered open for debate.

This kind of thing can also arise from a challenge that refers back to the
original requirements:

"The charter says the language should be for styling, but you've designed a
general transformation language".

"Oh no we haven't: look, it says so here."

Or it could be a defence against a challenge that the language was not
general-purpose enough:

"We need a facility to call trigonometric functions"

"Oh no you don't, this isn't a general-purpose programming language: look,
it says so here."

From reading the sequence of drafts leading up to XSLT 1.0, one gets the
impression that the language became more general-purpose with each
successive draft, so what the WG was actually doing was at odds with what it
claimed to be doing in this sentence.


Michael Kay

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