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XML-L  September 2002

XML-L September 2002

Subject:

Re: Fairly Urgent XSLT Question

From:

Wendell Piez <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

General discussion of Extensible Markup Language <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 6 Sep 2002 15:21:21 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (62 lines)

Bob--

At 08:39 AM 9/6/2002, you wrote:
>Hi everybody...I have the need to generate a PDF document on the fly in
>a web app.  Planning to use the Formatting Objects Processor (FOP) from
>the Apache project to do this.
>
>Problem is that I have VERY little XSLT experience.  Was hoping someone
>could direct me to a good source for learning how to build the XSLT
>templates for PDF files that the FOP needs.

This is a bit of a challenge, since you are dealing with the outset with
two technologies wrapped in the bundle we call "XSL". XSLT is of course the
way you specify the transforms themselves (it looks as though you have a
grasp of this idea). XSL FO is the model (represented in XML of course) for
the page layout that you want to create: in your case (but not in other
applications of XSLT) the output of your transformation will conform to
this model. Although the two work together, it is also important to
understand they can be separated -- and in fact that for learning purposes
it's important to keep the distinction very clear in your mind. You will
really be learning two things at once, and like anything complex, it's much
easier to assimilate if you break it down.

As you know, in the Real World time = money, and while there are good books
that can help you get started (and a fair number of mediocre books that'll
pretend to), there's no magic solution that'll guarantee to get you up the
learning curve really quickly on your own. Attention from an experienced
developer can help; there are training courses such as those offered by my
company (see http://www.mulberrytech.com/services/classes/index.html) or by
Ken Holman (definitely check out http://www.cranesoftwrights.com/). And
there's always the option, if you can afford it, of securing the services
of a contractor. If they do their job well, you can usually learn a
tremendous amount from what they do and how (but I have no idea whether
that's at all an option).

I know this may not be much help, but your question is quite open-ended.

Books I like include the de facto standard, Mike Kay's _XSLT: A
Programmer's Reference_ (for the XSLT side) and Neil Bradley's _An XSL
Companion_ (good overview to get a sense of the scope of the technologies
and the way they work, albeit not complete enough to be a "manual"). On the
XSL-FO side, to teach yourself, pickings are slim, although there's a new
book out by Dave Pawson which ought to be pretty good. Also Ken Holman's
downloadable tutorial materials are worth checking out (at the web page
cited above).

I hope that helps. Feel free to contact me off list.

Good luck,
Wendell



======================================================================
Wendell Piez                            mailto:[log in to unmask]
Mulberry Technologies, Inc.                http://www.mulberrytech.com
17 West Jefferson Street                    Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
Suite 207                                          Phone: 301/315-9631
Rockville, MD  20850                                 Fax: 301/315-8285
----------------------------------------------------------------------
   Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in SGML and XML
======================================================================

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