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From "Argyn" <>
Subject RE: seperating content structure and style
Date Fri, 04 Apr 2003 23:35:19 GMT
this sounds very familiar to me. Once I had to make a reporting module with
PDF generation. When I looked at the existing reports (about 50-60 of them),
I found out that they are all (surprise!) similar :)

Actually, now I think that I found an example of self-similar fractals in
reporting domain, maybe I can claim for Turing award :)

Seriously, after few hours of thinking I came to conclusion that they all
can be constructed with a limited number of elements, which can be nested
and combined. I called them "layoutlets". By nesting and joining 3-4
layoutlets, one can generate unlimited variety of report layouts.

As far as I remember, I identified three main structural layoutlets for my
reports: list, vertical-list and table. I also had some other stuff, like
row, column, multi-line row etc.

So, when I extracted data from DB, I put it into content XML. Something

<resultset name="master">
<row><col id="1">Wow</col>
<resultset name="nested"><row><col id="1">Meow</col></row></resultset>

This has a nested resultset. Next step was to write stylesheet which makes
as you call it "structural" XML, I called it layout sheet. This would use my
layoutlets, which are defined as templates in a separate stylesheet library
(I called it generic). Example:

<xsl:template match ="row[../@name='master']" mode="list">

  <xsl:call-template name="row-list">

    <xsl:with-param name="columns"><xsl:call-template

    <xsl:with-param name="is-nested" select="true()"/>



The above template uses "row-list" layoutlet to render the "master"
resultset. "row-list" template is defined in generic layoutlet library. I
can cimply change this layoutlet, and all reports will be affected.
"row-list" renders coumns of the row as a vertical list using XSL-FO. At the
end I get XSL-FO file and make PDF out of it using FOP or something else.

So, the report specifi stylesheet only has to map resultsets in content XML
to appropriate layoutlets (generic templates). What's interesting is that
layoutlets are orthogonal, so I can combine them in any order. Orthogonality
also is very good for stylesheet languages, as you know, because it makes
template writing very straightforward.


  -----Original Message-----
  From: Kris Rasmussen []
  Sent: Friday, April 04, 2003 2:36 PM
  Subject: seperating content structure and style

  Let me know what you guys think about this.

  The general idea these days is to seperate content logic and style, as
cocoon does very well. However, I think it is even better if you can
seperate structure from style. The way i have done this in the past is with
template calling in xsl. However, I think it would be much cleaner to have
two style sheet transformations in cocoon, one that takes content to
structure, and another that takes structure to style.

  For example, if I had an employee database that output xml like this

  <employee id=2>
    <name>Some Name</name>

  I would then transform it to some structural language like this:

  <box title="{@name}">
  <section title="details">
  <section title="some other section">

  And then finally transform the structural elements to some sort of
presentational form.

  Preferably the structural language would consist of as few as possible
elements, maybe a couple types of box's, a couple types of lists, a couple
types of sections, etc.

  Do people do stuff like this already, and if so are there any good xml
languages that one could use to describe structure?


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