W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-xsl-fo@w3.org > February 2001

Re: Using an XSL Formatter as an XSL-FO Web Browser

From: Arved Sandstrom <asandstrom@accesscable.net>
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 2001 12:02:25 -0400
Message-ID: <002701c0937a$dce285e0$089e4718@accesscable.net>
To: <www-xsl-fo@w3.org>
Well-known paper, of course. It's generated a lot of heat in its time. :-)

Taken at face value I think it makes some good points. I like the suggestion
that general XSL "things" not be called "stylesheets", because they aren't;
so I've been pushing that idea rather strongly myself. I like the idea that
FO documents should contain a link back to their source...also, even if
processing XSLT+XSL-FO together cannot be rigidly enforced it can still be
strongly encouraged. In general I agree that delivering FO to Web clients
(or really, any disconnected client, say FO via SMTP or JMS) isn't a great

One of the reasons I have problems with this article, and others along the
same vein, is that it's written with a mindset that everything XML has to do
with the Web. At my real job I use XML everyday that has absolutely zero to
do with the Web. Data over HTTP is not the "Web", either, not if it's not a
browser on the other end. I use XML and XSLT to create HTML, HDML, WML,
cHTML and HTML Lite for various browsers - I would never consider using
either FO or XML+CSS for any of that: it's overkill. And there are some of
us, myself included, that think the primary role of FO is to do one thing
and do that well - support XML-based high-quality printing. Which again has
nothing to do with the Web.

With all due respect to Håkon Lie, I look at the progress of CSS within the
Style Sheets Activity, particularly the goals of CSS3, and I wonder if the
real sentiments aren't nevertheless "Formatting Objects considered
harmful...period". I expect to see another article soon that says
"Formatting Objects considered harmful for printing" - it's not much of a
stretch to take the same arguments and attack FO right across the board.
Considering the fact that CSS3 is proclaiming itself as "a complete desktop
publishing system", with aggressive moves into areas that (to me , anyway,
maybe I'm a suspicious SOB) sure look like they don't have much to do with
Web browsers, and I start thinking that maybe not everyone is on the same
sheet of music. I very much doubt that you'll find CSS people evangelizing
about Web delivery of XSLT+XSL-FO, which prima facie should address concerns
addressed in the article. Point being, if it's in the same space as CSS
(which is huge, and getting bigger...it's unwieldy now) then it's a Bad

I see a lot of misunderstanding and general fuzzy requirements caused by the
fact that XML specs are, in general, still under W3C, which (let's face it)
is concentrating on the Web. Well, not everything you can do with XML has to
do with the Web, and it's not necessarily a problem with some XML-based spec
that it's not Web-friendly. FWIW this is not an attack on XSL WG folks...I'm
guessing you guys maybe are forced to do some things that maybe don't feel
quite right just because you're part of W3C (no need to answer :-))

I think FO will do very nicely if we don't copy CSS mistakes, which is to
try to do everything. If we settle on a simple, well-defined mission, and do
it really well, then we're cool.

Arved Sandstrom

----- Original Message -----
From: Max Froumentin <mf@w3.org>
To: <www-xsl-fo@w3.org>
Sent: Friday, February 09, 2001 6:30 AM
Subject: Re: Using an XSL Formatter as an XSL-FO Web Browser

> I wrote:
> > Sending formatting objects over the web is considered a Bad Thing [1].
> [1] http://www.myopera.com/people/howcome/1999/foch.html
Received on Saturday, 10 February 2001 11:07:42 UTC

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