Sun, Adobe Post $90,000 Prize for XSL Implementation

March 15, 1999

Liora Alschuler

Special to

Frustrated with the slow pace of application development for rendering XML content, Sun Microsystems and Adobe are offering $90,000 in grants to individuals or corporations who can deliver applications to jumpstart XSL.

Sun will offer $30,000 for the development of an XSL formatting engine for Mozilla. Sun and Adobe are each offering $30,000 for an XSL batch formatter written in Java that produces documents in Portable Document Format (PDF). The two firms announced that $40,000 will go to a first prize winner and $20,000 to a second prize winner.

An RFP will be issued April 1 carrying a deadline for submissions of May 1. The winner will be announced on May 15. A progress report will be due by the August markup conference, with final deliverables to the public available by the XML '99 conference held the first week of December in Philadelphia.

The rationale. There are two primary components to Extensible Style Language (XSL) --a transformation language for converting XML files and a layout component for direct styling of XML formatting objects. Most applications of XSL, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0, use the transformation language to convert XML to HTML. While converting to HTML has its place, it sidesteps the issue of making a better composition engine, one capable of handling arbitrary tag structures and complex layouts.

Speaking at the opening keynote of XTech '99, Jon Bosak, Sun Microsystems and Chair of the W3C XML Coordination Group, said that the current direction traps XML as a "middleman for content," falling short of the objective to separate document structure from presentation and hindering the development of high-quality, cross-media publishing applications.

Details regarding how the resulting code will be licensed have yet to be finalized, so the RFP may be delayed, but Bozak said he expected the final software to still be available by the end of the year.

This was a preliminary announcement. When arrangements are finalized, information will be available from the Sun and Adobe Web sites.