World Wide Web Consortium Issues XSL Transformations (XSLT) and XML Path Language (XPath) as Recommendations

Two specifications work to transform XML documents and data, supporting presentation flexibility and device independence

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http://www.w3.org/ -- 16 November 1999 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today releases two specifications, XSL Transformations (XSLT) and XML Path Language (XPath), as W3C Recommendations. These new specifications represent cross-industry and expert community agreement on technologies that will enable the transformation and styled presentation of XML documents. A W3C Recommendation indicates that a specification is stable, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C membership, who favor its adoption by the industry.

"Anyone using XML can now take advantage of XSLT, a powerful new tool for manipulating, converting or styling documents," declared Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. "XPath adds a simple way of referring to parts of an XML document. Together, they strike a fine balance between simplicity of use and underlying power."

XSLT and XPath Add Strength, Flexibility to XML Architecture

As more content publishers and commercial interests deliver rich data in XML, the need for presentation technology increases in both scale and functionality. XSL meets the more complex, structural formatting demands that XML document authors have.

XSLT makes it possible for one XML document to be transformed into another according to an XSL Style sheet. As part of the document transformation, XSLT uses XPath to address parts of an XML document that an author wishes to transform. XPath is also used by another XML technology, XPointer, to specify locations in an XML document. "What we've learned in developing XPath will serve other critical XML technologies already in development," noted Daniel Veillard, W3C Staff contact for the XML Linking Working Group.

Together, XSLT and XPath make it possible for XML documents to be reformatted according to the parameters of XSL style sheets and increase presentation flexibility into the XML architecture.

Device Independent Delivery of XML Documents

Separating content from presentation is key to the Web's extensibility and flexibility. "As the Web develops into a structured data space, and the tools used to access the Web grow more varied, the need for flexibility in styling and structure is essential," explained Vincent Quint, W3C User Interface Domain Leader and staff contact for the XSL Working Group. "With XSLT and XPath, we're closer to delivering rich, structured data content to a wider range of devices."

Broad Industry Support, Multiple Implementations Already Available

The XSLT Recommendation was written and developed by the XSL Working Group, which includes key industry players such as Adobe Systems, Arbortext, Bell Labs, Bitstream, Datalogics, Enigma, IBM, Interleaf, Lotus, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, O'Reilly & Associates, RivCom, SoftQuad Inc, Software AG, and Sun Microsystems. Notable contributions also came from the University of Edinburgh and a range of invited experts.

The XPath Recommendation pooled together efforts from both the XSL Working Group and the XML Linking Working Group, whose membership includes CommerceOne, CWI, DATAFUSION, Fujitsu, GMD, IBM, Immediate Digital, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Textuality, and the University of Southampton.

The creators of XML documents now have a variety of open source and commercial tools which support XSLT and XPath. In addition, many W3C members who reviewed the specifications have committed to implementations in upcoming products, indicated in the wide range of testimonials.

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users, reference code implementations to embody and promote standards, and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 370 organizations are Members of the Consortium. For more information see http://www.w3.org/