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Re: [xml-dev] XML and CSS

On Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 03:34:08PM +0100, Jesper Tverskov wrote:
> I don't thing that is the full explanation. When looking back, I find
> it incredible to believe, that many of us once thought that "XML
> Browsing", meaning CSS styled homegrown XML, was a promising road to
> follow for webpages.

Some of us were hoping for adoption of a more sophisticated styling
mechanism, such as (what became) XSL-FO.  Unfortunately, it's clear
that, even if there were Web browsers implementing XSL-FO, it's
too difficult for the target audience in the Web design world to use.

Generating (X)HTML seems to me to be the primary way forward for the Web.

Some XML editing environments (XMetal, XXE, etc) use CSS for styles, or
at least something CSS-like, usually without the cascading part. I only
know of one editor (Serna, now with a useable open source version) that
uses XSL-FO for screen display: it was a much harder technical challenge.

I always thought the real goal was to be able to get fairly arbitrary
SGML (or, later, XLM) to display in the Web browser - originally using
a browser plugin such as SoftQuad Panorama or EBT DynaWeb.  I for one
never expected CSS to be widely used for XML, since (1) the cascading
part didn't seem relevent in most cases, and (2) CSS didn't really
seem sophisticated enough for most "serious" publishing use cases.
I don't think that's a weakness of CSS - arbritary XML documents
are well outside its design, is all.

Jesper, your tutorial is almost like an advert for Prince, you could
at least include a link to e.g. FOP :-)

You also ask, Why has XML browsing turned out to be a dead end?
and "answer" it with, It makes more sense to use XHTML, but, XHTML
is based on XML, so in fact XML browsing is far from a dead end.

What is not so widely done is browsing of XML vocabularies that
are not built-in to the most common Web browsers.

For that, as Simon has pointed out, XLink's failure is a problem.
And a large part of its failure is that it never addressed the
"link discovery" or "architectural form" part of its requirements.

Some simple markup such as,
    <?xlink element="person" link="@brother" title=" 'My Brother' " ?>
    <?xlink element="person" link="concat('?ssn=', @ssn)" title="name" ?>
would have gone a long way to changing the world.

You have to look at the whole picture -- search engines, text readers,
javascript, links, forms, styles for screen and for printing, navigation...


Liam Quin, W3C XML Activity Lead, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
http://www.holoweb.net/~liam/ * http://www.fromoldbooks.org/

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