W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-xsl-fo@w3.org > October 2002

Re: xsl-fo first anniversary

From: Sharon Adler <sca@us.ibm.com>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 12:28:57 -0400
To: eliot@isogen.com
Cc: www-xsl-fo@w3.org
Message-ID: <OF673284D6.EE73EA84-ON85256C59.0059A417@us.ibm.com>

Eliot - sorry I read my mail when I've been away in the wrong order -
filled in the gaps before I read your entire chronology.  You did a great
job.  All I can add is that SGML from late 70's on was the driving force to
separate content and format - we learned from DCF that if you had the
ability to "pollute" your markup with formatting codes, you would.
Therefore, the idea is to attempt to ensure that the two are separate.  In
fact, we created the notion of "indirect addressing and navigation of
source markup" so that no formatting need be embedded in the source - ergo
the antecedent of XPath and match patterns of XSLT.

There was always a plan - always folks who thought it couldnt/shouldn't be
done, but the plan was there since there was so strong a need.  Even though
the flame wars persist and there are still naysayers we continued the work
because it was the right thing to do.  I personally was lucky that I always
had jobs where markup and formatting were considered to be somewhat
important so that I could continue to push the standards process in this



Sharon C. Adler
 Senior Manager, Extensible Technologies
 IBM Research
 PO Box 704, Yorktown Heights, NY  10598
 tel:  914-784-6411 t/l 863
 fax: 914-784-6324

                      "W. Eliot Kimber"                                                                                        
                      <eliot@isogen.com        To:       www-xsl-fo@w3.org                                                     
                      >                        cc:                                                                             
                      Sent by:                 Subject:  Re: xsl-fo first anniversary                                          
                      10/18/02 04:57 PM                                                                                        
                      Please respond to                                                                                        

Dave Pawson wrote:
> Sharon/Eliot, What has been the sequence over twenty years please?
> I'm guessing fosi, dsssl, xsl-fo. Anything prior to that please?

Sharon's memory is more reliable than mine, but here's my understanding
of the history:

1960's: gencode projects start as a way to standardize typesetting
codes. Basic ideas of generalized markup for documents start to form

   - Goldfarb, Moscher(? sorry, don't have SGML Handbook to hand), and
Laurie develop GML at IBM in order to satisfy requirements of legal
document search and retrieval. GML implemented on top of IBM's Document
Composition Facility (DCF).
   - Various large publishers, such as Boeing (where Sharon worked) and
the U.S. government start using GML to solve large-scale publishing
problems. Quickly realize the limitation of having markup language bound
too tightly to underlying typesetting language.
   - TeX is developed. LaTex developed--similar to GML in that it is a
more semantic macro language on top of a low-level formatting language
(not sure of the exact timing here).

   - SGML standard developed, driven both by GML and other industry
efforts. Standard published in 1986.
   - DSSSL standard work started, Sharon Adler editor and driving force
   - HyTime standard work started. Charles Goldfarb editor and driving
   - FOSI spec developed to meet U.S. DoD requirements (not sure of
exact timing here). Implemented by Datalogics and Arbortext.
   - Desktop publishing systems for Mac and PCs developed. Cost of
creating heavily designed publications drops. Cost of developing
technical manuals goes up because of time spent by tech writers tweaking
   - Word processing systems for Mac and PCs developed. People forget
everything they knew about generalized document development. Microsoft
takes ownership of 90% of world's documents.
   - Big publishers continue to embrace GML and SGML

Early 1990's:

   - IBM starts developing SGML replacement for it's GML application
BookMaster (used for 90% of IBM's publications).
   - HyTime standard published.
   - SGML use continues to expand, but almost exclusively for
large-scale applications in big enterprises, in large part due to high
start-up costs.
   - EBT's DynaText makes it practical and affordable to use SGML for
direct online delivery of SGML documents. Suddenly the value of SGML
documents goes way up as enterprises realize the value of generalized
markup. Shortcomings of print-only DTP-based technical documents becomes

1992: World Wide Web invented. Nobody gets it.

1994: Mosaic 2.0 Web browser released. Supports graphics in Web pages.
Suddenly everyone gets it (or starts to).

Mid 90's: CSS developed as a way to do client-side styling of HTML docs.


- HyTime and DSSSL camps realize they must come to agreement on the
fundamental data model for SGML documents. Groves invented to solve this

- DSSSL standard published. James Clark releases Jade DSSSL implementation.

- John Bosak starts "SGML on the Web" activity with the express goal of
enabling high-quality rendering of SGML documents in Web browsers.


   - HyTime standard V2 (now with groves) published.
   - XML 1.0 published.
   - Works start on XSL. Immediately gets diverted to task of generating
HTML from XML.

   - XSL FO recommendation published. Four implementations availble:
FOP, XEP, XSL Formatter, and Epic (partial implementation)


   - XEP, XSL Formatter, Epic all upgraded to implement almost all FO
features and provide some support for missing FO features
   - XSL FO reaches 1-year anniversary


W. Eliot Kimber, eliot@isogen.com
Consultant, ISOGEN International

1016 La Posada Dr., Suite 240
Austin, TX  78752 Phone: 512.656.4139
Received on Monday, 21 October 2002 12:32:05 UTC

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