The XSL Challenge

Friday May 21st, 1999

C. David Tallman has news of an interesting article at In it, Michael Leventhal of CITEC (the group creating DocZilla) takes off the gloves and challenges XSL to best XML/CSS/DOM in a competition of functionality/usability in the web application space. Interestingly, Mozilla plays an important role in the contest. From

"Anything XSL can do in the Web environment, I can do better using technologies supported by current W3C Recommendations. Of course, what is 'meaningful' in the Web environment is open to a variety of interpretations. Therefore, the subject of the challenge should be one that the XSL camp and I agree is meaningful. I am also ready to make this bet a little bit more than an academic exercise. If I lose, I will pledge that I, and my crack mozilla development team, will assist in implementing XSL in the mozilla open source project. If my opponents lose they will agree to desist from XSL advocacy, vote against an XSL Recommendation if they are members of the W3C, and will join me in calling for full, flawless, and unequivocal vendor support of CSS1 and CSS2, DOM Level 1, and XML 1.0 as the very first and top priority of the web community."

#9 Re:The XSL Challenge

by Michael Leventhal <>

Sunday May 23rd, 1999 10:16 AM

You are replying to this message

I am Michael Leventhal, author of the article in "XSL Considered Harmful".

I have a few points to make in response to comments here.

First, with respect to the attacks against my motives or the assertion that I "haven't thought about the implications" I don't think this sort of thing deserves a response. Read the article and judge it and judge me on the article's technical merits. I ask nothing more ... or less.

The fact that some commentators have not done this is clear as they appear unaware that I make five points against XSL, not just the ones attacked in isolation and out of context.

The major point about the challenge "whatever XSL can do current W3C Recommendations can do better" is that XSL, which is very far from being a W3C Recommendation and therefore able to implemented in a standard, cross-vendor fashion, will not add any new _capability_ above what can be accomplished with the current full Recommendations. So a future XSL W3C Recommendation will only provide a language more to some people's "taste". Obviously the first thing to do is to implement the W3C Recommendations, XML 1.0, DOM, CSS fully and correctly first as this is the foundation of the next generation of Web browsers. And this is exactly what Mozilla has done.

Now, as to whether or not XSL should be the language for transformation which is more to everyone's "taste" or not I must refer you to the article and my other points about the language where this is discussed in depth.

By the way, no one has "shot [my] argument down", Tim Bray, the co-father of XML is "80% in agreement with me", and very, very far from everyone else who have had years of experience with SGML disagrees with me. Quite the other way around. I am among those with many years of SGML experience myself.

God, the things people say!