XSL Does Not Support Interactive Web Documents
May 20, 1999
With HTML forms included through the HTML namespace, but without CGI, and definitely without XSL, we at CITEC are building the following Web browser-based semantically rich XML applications:
- Online Books/Manuals with Hypertext TOCs and structured search
- Web browser designed for a car with simulated feeds to diagnostic and maintenance systems
- Manages hyperlinks in document collections, providing interface, maintenance, editing and visualization of a link database and links targets and sources in documents
- Simulated stock reporting feed, shown in this article
- Interface to email system
- Interactive Electronic Technical Manual Interface with special safety features
- Allows insertion of annotations into documents
- WindowsHelp-like system
- Does slide shows
- DTD-driven XML editor
I showed some of these applications at the XML Europe conference and also delivered my now-standard denunciation of the "XSL conspiracy". The speaker who had the misfortune to follow me was a very knowledgeable gentleman whom I respect very much, Neil Bradley (author of The Concise SGML Companion and The XML Companion), and the topic he had the misfortune to cover was, of course, XSL. And he began by saying that, of course, he would never attempt to create the applications he had just seen with XSL because "XSL is not for interactive documents".
Is there really anything more to say? If XSL is no good for interactive documents what do I need XSL for? Is there anyone out there that is not interested in enabling interactive behavior in a clean, structured, standard, and maintainable way in their web documents? Isn't that what XML on the Web is for, to enable such applications to be built using semantic information from element names, attributes and the document structure? This is what we thought and this is what we have been doing. We think our 'Zillas are the proof that XML on the Web does everything XML on the Web was promised to do. And we do it with XML, CSS, and the DOM and really cannot understand why anyone could, would or should give a damn about XSL.
The XSL folks seem to be about a million miles from this, proposing a horse-and-buggy model in laser-guided precision missile world.