September 12, 2001
XSLT--Transforming Data For the Web
Sebastopol, CA--XSLT, Extensible Stylesheet Language for
Transformations, was born from a need to separate content from
presentation on the Web. The problem with HMTL--which is unquestionably
the most widely used markup language--is that most HTML pages have one
goal in mind: the appearance of a document. "Veterans of the markup
industry know that this is definitely not the way to create content,"
explains Doug Tidwell, author of XSLT (O'Reilly, US
$39.95). "Separation of content and presentation is a long-established
tenet of the publishing industry; unfortunately, most HTML pages aren't
even close to approaching this ideal." XML (Extensible Markup Language), on
the other hand, represents structured content independent of its
presentation. Because of its flexibility, XML is becoming the language
of choice for sending structured data across the Web, and more and
more, its successful implementation depends on XSLT.
XSLT is a powerful language for transforming XML documents into
something else. "That something else can be an HTML document, another
XML document, a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, a Scalable Vector
Graphics (SVG) file, a Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) file,
Java code, a flat text file, a JPEG file, or most anything you want,"
explains Tidwell. "You write an XSLT stylesheet to define the rules for
transforming an XML document, and the XSLT processor does the work."
As useful as XSLT is, its peculiar characteristics make it difficult to
get started in, and the ability to use advanced techniques depends on a
clear and exact understanding of how XSLT templates work and interact.
In XSLT, Tidwell
gives developers a thorough tutorial and reference
guide to the language. A developer with years of XSLT experience,
Tidwell explains XSLT by building from the basics to the more complex
but powerful possibilities of XSLT.
"XSLT contains more examples than any other source available," says
Tidwell. "I filled it full of examples for people who have work to do.
My assumption is not that you're learning XSLT because you want to be
an expert, but learning it because you have a job to do."
"This book is for anyone who has structured data they need to share,"
Tidwell adds. "With the growth of pervasive devices like cell phones,
computers, handhelds, etc., people are going to have to take more and
more information and serve it up in different ways. That's what XSLT
was meant to do. It gives you the power to convert your data into a lot
of formats that weren't previously possible."
practical, real-world examples that show how to apply
XSLT stylesheets to XML data. The resulting transformations run the
gamut of XML applications including sound files, HTML, WML, graphics
(SVG), and Braille. Readers of XSLT will get a
thorough understanding of XSLT and XPath and their relationship to other
web standards, along with recommendations for a honed toolkit in an open,
platform-neutral, standards-based environment.
By Doug Tidwell
ISBN 0-596-00053-7, 460 pages, $39.95 (US)
O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
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