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RE: changing final output while writing temporary tree

From: Kay, Michael <Michael.Kay@softwareag.com>
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 02:42:14 +0100
Message-ID: <DFF2AC9E3583D511A21F0008C7E621060453DFC5@daemsg02.software-ag.de>
To: Andre Cusson <ac@hyperbase.com>, public-qt-comments@w3.org
Cc: michael.h.kay@ntlworld.com, saxon-help@lists.sourceforge.net

I think that the mental model we have used for multiple result trees is that
there is conceptually one combined tree, and that the actual result trees
all have to be subtrees of this combined tree. The stylesheet logic for
writing multiple result documents is therefore exactly the same as you would
write if you were generating the combined tree. If you can write the logic
to produce the combined tree, then it is trivial to modify it to produce
multiple trees. What the facility for multiple result trees does not do is
to free you from the need to produce output in "result tree order" - that
is, the order of instructions in the stylesheet reflects the order of nodes
written to the result.

Its true that the restriction on when xsl:result-document can be used
appears somewhat draconian, and the problem it is solving seems rather small
in comparison. Arguably, we are applying the "no-side-effects" philosophy of
the language rather strictly in this case. I'm sure we could relax the rules
by leaving some edge cases implementation defined, but on the whole we have
been reluctant to do that.

We did have a different solution to this problem in earlier drafts, but it
required extra information in the data model and was very hard to
understand. It still imposed substantial restrictions. The model was that a
result document was effectively a child node attached to some other tree,
invisible to XPath expressions, but still linked in the sense that the tree
was written out only if and when the parent node was written to a result

We spent some time debating this and I'm reluctant to re-open it. Rather,
I'd like to see whether we can use your problem as a test case to see
whether the existing language is up to solving the problem. In the example
you show, I find it very hard to understand why you are trying to produce a
result document as a side-effect of calculating a parameter to a named
template. It seems a very odd way to do things, though I'm sure it makes
sense to you.

Michael Kay

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Andre Cusson [mailto:ac@hyperbase.com] 
> Sent: 26 January 2003 20:47
> To: public-qt-comments@w3.org
> Cc: michael.h.kay@ntlworld.com; saxon-help@lists.sourceforge.net
> Subject: changing final output while writing temporary tree
> Hi,
> I would like to make a case for the removal of the 
> restriction imposed on 
> the result-document instruction when writing to a temporary 
> result tree.
> The proposal states:
> [ERR146] It is a dynamic error to evaluate the xsl:result-document 
> instruction when the current destination node is not a node 
> belonging to a 
> result tree (for example, when it is a node belonging to a 
> temporary tree). 
> The processor must signal the error. . This means, for 
> example, that it is 
> an error to use xsl:result-document when the tree containing 
> the current 
> destination node is a temporary tree created using 
> xsl:variable, or a tree 
> created using xsl:message, xsl:attribute, etc
> and, as I understand, the issue that brought this restriction 
> was related 
> to limiting side-effects and a typical case was stated as:
> But let's take a global variable
> <xsl:variable name="x">
>    <xsl:result-document ...>
>      <a/>
>    </
> </
> The variable is never referenced. Should the result document 
> be output, or 
> not?
> There are a few alternatives to answer this question, but restricting 
> result-document is not the right one because it is much to 
> restrictive. In fact it blocks recursion for serialization of 
> documents which I would 
> think is one of the last things to do in a functional environment.
> XSLT is functional programming and functional programming is 
> recursion for 
> recursive structures. Blocking recursion is defeating the 
> main purpose.
> Here is a brief summary of the issue.
> First a trivial example where a "Cannot switch to a final result 
> destination while writing a temporary tree" error on the line 
> marked with 
> an x is generated when the processor (ex: Saxon v7.3.1 reaches the 
> recursive call to 'publish' and executes the 'make-page' 
> template from there.
> <xsl:output name="outputf-format" .../>
> <xsl:template name="make-page">
>          <xsl:param name="src-nodeset"/>
>          <xsl:param name="fname"/>
> x       <xsl:result-document format="output-format" href="{$fname}">
>                  ...
>                  <xsl:copy-of select="$src-nodeset"/>
>                  ...
>          </xsl:result-document>
> </xsl:template>
> <xsl:template name="publish">
>          <xsl:param name="src-nodeset"/>
>          <xsl:for-each select="$src-nodeset/section">
>                  ...
>                  <xsl:call-template name="make-page">
>                          <xsl:with-param name="fname" select="@id"/>
>                          <xsl:with-param name="src-nodeset">
>                                  ...
>                                  <xsl:for-each 
> select="sub-section-group">
>                                          <xsl:call-template 
> name="publish">
>                                                  <xsl:with-param 
> name="src-nodeset" select="."/>
>                                          </xsl:call-template>
>                                  </xsl:for-each>
>                          </xsl:with-param>
>                  </xsl:call-template>
>          <xsl:for-each>
> </xsl:template>
> Writing a secondary document is not a side effect, it is 
> simply dealing 
> with (serializing to) the real world where information is 
> mapped to finite 
> flat files like web pages.
> It seems to us like a major impediment if a style sheet is limited to 
> outputting a single page at a time, without recursion.
> We have here an application with 10 to 20K lines of XSLT, processing 
> millions of lines of streaming and static XML into infinitely complex 
> documents for printed and interactive access.  There are many issues 
> involved and performance is one of them.  One of the keys is 
> to stream and 
> process graphs and structures efficiently.  Recursion and not 
> having to 
> reprocess the same (often very large) structures iteratively 
> is crucial.
> So as one traverses such structures, gathering data and 
> building a page, 
> and one finds information there that warrants a sub page (and so on 
> recursively), one needs to also produce those pages.  With 
> the current 
> restriction, the only alternative is to iteratively process 
> and reprocess 
> the structure(s), building multiple temporary trees and variables, 
> recalculating values and node sets until the full depth of the 
> structure(s)I has been reached and all sub-pages at all levels of the 
> recurring structure have been generated. This is using 
> iteration to deal 
> with recursion.  It is not only (very) inefficient and 
> awkward (and not 
> streamable), it is plain ugly.
> The example code here was purposely simple to show where the 
> error message 
> occurred but we do have real world examples and they are far more 
> intricate.  This feature is required by a few major modules in our 
> application (ex: publishing, O-R mapping, invoicing, etc.).  
> We built this 
> application with Saxon v6.5.2 that complied to the XSLT 1.1  
> draft which 
> defined a "document" instruction that did not have this 
> restriction on 
> changing the final output document while writing to a temporary tree.
> Our application works fine with Saxon v6.5.2 (XSLT v1.1) but 
> cannot be 
> ported to Saxon 7.3.1 (XSLT v2.0) for this single reason.
> This is a major limitation to us.  But we also feel that it 
> is a major 
> limitation for XSLT.
> Of course side-effects should be avoided but preventing 
> recursion (for 
> serialisation) is not the right way, because the cost is to 
> high and out 
> weights the benefits.
> As for the unused global variable with a result-document in 
> the initial 
> example above, I tend to believe that if the variable is unused, the 
> document should probably not be output and the processor 
> should probably 
> signal that the variable is not used (and (possibly) that the 
> document will 
> not be output).  Other solutions could also be acceptable to 
> us, including 
> outputting the document anyway or even, as was suggested, 
> that the document 
> be output only if the temporary tree gets copied to the final 
> result tree.
> We would be happy to contribute in any way on the resolution 
> of this issue 
> (changing final output while writing a temporary tree) so do 
> not hesitate 
> to contact us.
> Thank you.
> Regards,
> Andre Cusson
> ac@hyperbase.com
> Tel: (1) 514 984 1601
> 01 Communications Inc.
> 11840 Norwood Avenue
> Montreal, QC, H3L 3H7
Received on Monday, 27 January 2003 20:42:33 UTC

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