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W3C Releases Two New Specs as Recommendations

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) this week recommended two new specifications.

XSL Transformations (XSLT) and XML Path Language (XPath) represent further agreement on technologies to enable the standardization of transformation and styled presentation of XML documents.

XSLT enables one XML document to be transformed into another based on an XSL stylesheet. XSLT is designed for use as part of XSL, an XML stylesheet language. XSL specifies the styling of an XML document by using XSLT to describe how the document is transformed into another XML document that uses the formatting vocabulary. Although XSLT is also designed to be used independently of XSL, it is not intended as a general-purpose XML transformation language. Rather, it is designed primarily for the kinds of transformations needed when XSLT is used as part of XSL.

The primary purpose of XPath is to address parts of an XML document. In support of this primary purpose, XPath also provides basic facilities to manipulate strings, numbers and Booleans. XPath uses a compact, non-XML syntax to facilitate its use within URIs and XML attribute values. XPath operates on the abstract, logical structure of an XML document rather than its surface syntax.

XPath functions as part of the XSLT document transformation, addressing parts of an XML document that an author wishes to transform. XPointer, another XML technology, also uses XPath to specify locations in an XML document. XSLT and XPath enable XML documents to be reformatted according to the parameters of XSL stylesheets, thus increasing the presentation flexibility of the XML architecture.

The XSLT Recommendation was written and developed by the XSL Working Group, which includes such industry players as Adobe Systems, Bell Labs, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle and Sun Microsystems. The XPath Recommendation combined efforts from the XSL Working Group and the XML Linking Working Group, whose members include CommerceOne, CWI, Fujitsu, GMD, Immediate Digital, Textuality, and the University of Southampton, as well as some of the members of the XSL Working Group.

A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C membership, who by a general consensus favor its adoption by the industry. W3C believes that the ideas or technology specified by a Recommendation are appropriate for widespread deployment.

The W3C is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science in the United States, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control in France and Keio University in Japan.