As useful as XML transformations can be, they are not simple to implement. In fact, rather than trying to specify the transformation of XML in the original XML 1.0 specification, three separate recommendations have come out to define how transformations should occur. Although one of these (XPath) is also used in several other XML specifications, by far the most common use of the components I outline here is to transform XML from one format into another.

Because these three specifications are tied together tightly and almost always used in concert, there is rarely a clear distinction between them. This can often make for a discussion that is easy to understand, but not necessarily technically correct. In other words, the term XSLT, which refers specifically to extensible stylesheet transformations, is often applied to both extensible stylesheets (XSL) and XPath. In the same fashion, XSL is often used as a grouping term for all three technologies. In this section, I distinguish among the three recommendations, and remain true to the letter of the specifications outlining these technologies. However, in the interest of clarity, I use XSL and XSLT interchangeably to refer to the complete transformation process throughout the rest of the book. Although this may not follow the letter of these specifications, it certainly follows their spirit, as well as avoiding lengthy definitions of simple concepts when you already understand what I mean.


XSL is the Extensible Stylesheet ...

Get Java and XML, Second Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.