New website (inspired by the "Website layout" thread)

Joerg Sonnenberger joerg at
Fri Feb 6 13:43:44 PST 2004

On Fri, Feb 06, 2004 at 12:40:53PM -0700, Amar Takhar wrote:
> * using xml means you'll have to spend time creating stylesheets, which can
>   sometimes be as much work as creating the source (not content) of the xml
>   files themselves.

You have to do that for SGML based processing too. The only difference
might be that there are some existing stylesheets already.

> * is a horrible xml parsing web server, it's not ready for major
>   production use by any stretch, so which webserver will be used for

You mean for dynamic XML processing using XSLT? Difficult question. There
is an Apache module like you mentioned. But it was really limited last
time I checked.

> * people submitting back to the project will first have to understand the
>   stylesheets before they'll know how to submit content back.

And SGML is any different here?

> * anytime a new layout needs to be created, you have to create a new stylesheet.
> * eventually you end up with so many extensions, upgrading, or changing over to
>   anything else in nearly impossible.
> These points are from practical experiance, they are not guesses.  From work
> experiance to what i've seen in other opensource projects.
> I'd love to hear about atleast one, popular sucess story with XML/XSLT.

I've been using XML/XSLT with server side processing here at work. We have
been using it for the frontend creation for a Python application using
4suite. The performance hit compared to a classic template engine for the
completely dynamically created pages was measureable, but acceptable.

> Now, for SGML, i'd like to clarify the following, as i'm not sure many people
> understand what "SGML" means with regards to what I did.
> The site is in 100% PURE HTML. (no sugar added)
> The DSSSL style sheet system is used for include systems, and creating external
> entities.  There is _zero_ SGML involved whatsoever.  It just "happens" to be
> the same system, but with an HTML vs SGML DTD.  This allows for superior offline
> HTML checking, sort of like compiling a C program, if there is an error, it'll
> bork, if not, it works fine.  You don't get this with XML, if the template
> compiles correctly, it's fine, the resulting HTML is not checked.  Yes, you can
> us tidy to check for errors, however, you've left to finding out where
> specificially, in what xml file or stylesheet the error is being created.

Well, basically you can do almost the same with XML and XSLT. There is one
good reason for XML. There are a lot more tools out there for processing
XML since it is simpler. XML is simpler for markup because it is somewhat

> * As mentioned above with the offline style checking.
> * It's extremely easy to follow, entities / includes are kept in a single file.
> * Pure HTML, no unknown tags.
> * Can be edited very easily in a WYSIWYG editor.

At least that one is a very good reason to use XML, since there are some
good editors for direct support of XSLT.

> * Static pages.
> There is a reason FreeBSD handles 1,000,000 hits per day on on
> such a small machine, the site is almost entirely static content.
> Yes, you can do this with XML/XSLT to create static pages offline, however, why
> on earth would you use it for that?
> The whole point is to load your XSL's into the webserver and parse the XML files
> live.  This is a pretty heavy load -- i'm not sure how much experiance anyone
> has seen with what this creates, but it's a huge mess.
> I'd strongly advise against using XML/XSLT and stick with static HTML pages,
> unless you have a few grand kicking around for the superhuman webserver you're
> going to need once you pass a few hundred thousand hits a day.

I don't really want to switch to dynamic pages.

> I'm not saying use SGML, i'm saying use HTML using the DSSSL HTML DTD to check.
> People assume *.sgml and thinkg "oh my god he's using docbook, or sgml or..."
> Remember, SGML == Standard Generalized Markup Language.  It's just a method for
> handling documents.

I have the slight feeling we and that includes e.g. hmp and asmodai too,
are talking about different things. Ideally we want to largly separate
content and layout. Therefore we need either a DSSSL or XSLT stylesheet.
Which too choose depends:
a) on community knowledge (which speaks for XML)
b) existing tools (somewhat a tie).

Of course I should mention I don't want to work on the web page, but
may be this could clarify some parts.

> Amar.

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