RealTime IT News

W3C Recommends Extensible Stylesheet Language

In its ongoing efforts to tinker with characteristics of the important Extensible Markup Language, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Tuesday said it has issued the Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) 1.0 -- an XML-based language that spells how XML documents will be formatted -- as a recommendation.

The specification builds on, and works together with XSL Transformations (XSLT), an XML language that performs transformations of structured documents that passed muster in November 1999. The W3C's motives in hammering out XSLT and XSL 1.0 are to help render paginated Web media and professionally printed documents.

W3C said XSL 1.0 is an extension of XSL Transformations, which although an effective spec, was not able to provide more advanced format levels. XSL 1.0 corrects this by defining "formatting objects," such as footnotes, headers, columns, and other features common to paged media.

How does this work? For example, a Web developer would use XSL 1.0 stylesheets to indicate rendering preferences for a type of XML document, including how it is styled, laid out, and paginated onto a browser window, a pamphlet, or a book. An XSL engine would then take the XML document and the XSL stylesheet, and would produce a rendering of the document.

In short, XSLT 1.0 makes it possible to change the original structure of an XML document, while XSL 1.0 makes complex document formatting possible through the use of formatting objects and properties. Together, XSL 1.0 and XSLT make it possible for the needs of Web and print-based media formatting to be met. Essentially, one can have documents and data stored in XML, specify how to format and render them, and produce versions for the Web and print.

W3C said the XSL 1.0 is compatible and interoperable with Cascading Style Sheet language (CSS) technology for styling.

A number of W3C member organizations have tested XSL 1.0, including representatives from Adobe Systems Inc., IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp.

As a premier graphics -and text-supportive software maker, Adobe was pleased with the recommendation:

"The formatting objects and styling properties in XSL 1.0 provide a significant foundation for bringing higher quality formatting, pagination and control to the web, consistent with Adobe's page layout products -- Adobe FrameMaker, InDesign and PageMaker," said Julie McEntee, Director of Server Products for Adobe. "In the world of network publishing in which customers need predictable results when authoring and reusing content across print, web and wireless, standards such as XML, XSL and SVG are critical."