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Table of topic groupsFront page of CSS-guideProposalsMore powerful XSL? > XLS - mission impossible? (section 2/2)

XLS - mission impossible?

Instead of CSS in XML can use also XSL, which use same kind of definitions as CSS, but which have also special rules in order to get better control to presentation

XSL has been under construction few years and I have read XSL draft from the years 1997 (A Proposal for XSL· Submitted to W3C on 27 August 1997) and also newest recommendation.

Most teaching in the net seems to base on the elder version and it has the real possibility to work. Rules are quite simple and clear - but it is obsolete! MS IE 5.0 support transformation part of XLS and it seems to base on 1998 proposals. This is however today also obsolete! Just the newest version is reasonable to learn, because it might be quite ready.

Other sites:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/xml.

But I ask: Is the newest version of XSL an impossible mission for MS IE! The same question can ask also from Netscape and Opera Software, but MS IE has been made a quite new browser, which should support CSS2 and XML.The implementations are so half-made, that Microsoft doesn't convince me, that XSL-implementation would newer work properly in MS IE!

Why I can say so? Answer: simple estimation the existing system. IE 5.0 can't fulfil all formatting objects models of CSS1 - the simplest level. In CSS1 is only few formatting model with the property display and only Mozilla 5.0 can display them all. In CSS2 is much more and only Mozilla can render at least part of the new formatting models, but not all.

Formatting object models

In the newest working draft is much more formatting object models than in CSS2. Lets looks the XSL 1.0; 4.2 Formatting Objects Summary (I have added some comments):

 
bidi-override
block /*basic formatting model; this is also in CSS1 an all CSS capable browsers supports this*/
character
display-graphic
display-included-container
display-rule
display-sequence
first-line-marker /*in CSS is :first-line to the same purpose*/
float /* this is supported in CSS1*/
flow /* this is supported in CSS1*/
footnote
footnote-citation
inline-graphic
inline-rule
inline-sequence
layout-master-set
list-block
list-item /* this is supported in CSS1 and IE 5.0 can fulfil CSS definition 'display:list-item' neither in HTML and nor in XML*/
list-item-body
list-item-label
multi-case
multi-properties
multi-switch
multi-toggle
page-number
page-number-citation
page-sequence
region-after
region-before
region-body
region-end
region-start
root /*basic element in XSL*/
sequence-specification
sequence-specifier-alternating
sequence-specifier-repeating
simple-link
simple-page-master
static-content
table, table-body, table-caption, table-cell, table-column, table-footer, table-header /* these are also in CSS2, but only Mozilla 5.0 supports at least some of them*/
 
W3C:
XSL 1.0; 4.2 Formatting Objects Summary.

Because IE 5.0 don't display all basic display models and Mozilla can't fulfil all CSS2 models, I don't believe, that any browser would ever survive all of them! It might work in theory and with a special test application or in a special DSSSL+XML applications (the origin of XSL is DSSSL and CSS), which only task is to fulfil complex presentation. But I don't believe that it is in practice just impossible for common browsers! Impossible, because browsers have much other tasks too. We can alk also: Who has the time to learn all of this?

The path language

There is also other quite complex presentations schemes in the newest XPath working draft - also these might be too complex.

W3C:
XML Path Language (XPath) Version 1.0.

And then pattern matching. IE 5.0 support only CSS1 level pattern matching. CSS2 has brought much new matching patterns, like first-child selector, adjacent sibling selector and attribute selectors. XSL path language has corresponding selectors. If MS can't make proper pattern matching in CSS, how it is possible, that it could make proper pattern matching to XSL. Before I believe that MS can fulfil XSL patterns, Microsoft must be able to make proper CSS2-implementation!

If we compare XSL pattern syntax to CSS2 level patterns, which have attribute selectors, they have quite the same style:

ol > li:first-child :hover[name="some_name"] {color:blue} /* a CSS2 level matching pattern, which doesn't work in MS IE 5.0 */
child::para[position()=last()-1] /*a XSL matching pattern */

I have reasons to doubt that it happens the same to XSL as to CSS - it works today between 20-80%, but not even near to 100%! When the system is almost ready, there is certainly a new system and all systems remain unfinished.

Other browsers?

Canadian InDelv has created a client with an editor and browser, which has a proper XML + XSL implementation including formatting objects, XLink, XPath and XPointer. This is quite promising XML Client, but it is does have some bugs and it crash quite easy.

Other sites:
InDelv.

   
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CSS-guide has been last edited 07.08.2004