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Electronic Style Sheets: CSS, DSSSL and XSL

2 Day Seminar

Scope and Purpose

SGML, XML and HTML each provide a standard approach to recording the structure of documents. What about displaying, printing or presenting the information in those documents? This seminar provides an introduction to three new standards which each define a formal means of defining the relationship between document structure and appearance, that is, a style sheet.

We'll start by looking at the relation between document content, structure and appearance, the similarities and differences between the alternative style sheet standards and how to decide which one is right for which task, before embarking on an example-based introduction to each technology.

CSS: Taking control of what your web pages look like

The simplest of the there style languages we will look at is CSS, which is designed to allow authors of web pages written in HTML to control certain aspects of their appearance

XSL: More tags, more sophistication

Need more tags than HTML provides, but not ready for all of SGML? XML is the answer, it's a clean subset of SGML designed for structuring documents on the net. XSL is how you specify what those doucments will look like on delivery.

DSSSL: Full featured, programmable

The most sophisticated of the three, with everything you need for book publishing as well as network delivery, starting from any SGML document.

Who Should Attend

If you need to deliver structured data in one or more output media, and you want to specify the appearance of your data in a vendor-independent way, this seminar is for you. It will help you to

Technically-oriented managers and analysts concerned with documents and information within IT, computing, office systems and corporate publishing departments in all sectors will benefit.

Seminar Focus

How to manage document style separately from document content
How to chose the right style technology
Getting started with DSSSL, CSS and XSL

Outline Contents

Background to Electronic Style

Three aspects of a document: content, structure, appearance.
A brief history in three stages:

  1. The bad old days: Wordprocessors which confused structure and appearance;
  2. The recent past: Proprietary systems for linking appearance to structure;
  3. The present: HTML which confuses structure and appearance;
  4. The near future -- A standards-based approach: structure (SGML/XML), linking (HyTime/XLL) and appearance (DSSSL/XSL/CSS).

Electronic style specificiation

Structured documents, formal style specifications and medium-dependent appearance: How they fit together. Managing style as opposed to managing documents.

The right tool for the job: three style standards

  1. DSSSL: Document Style Semantics and Specification Language. An ISO standard (ISO 10179), provides style (and transformation) for SGML, sophisticated layout adequate for print as well as screen.
  2. CSS: Cascading Style Sheets. A W3C standard, provides style for HTML, primarily for screen delivery.
  3. XSL: XML Style Langauge. A draft W3C standard, provides style for XML. Aims to be compatible with both DSSSL and CSS.

Strengths and weaknesses of each style language. Which is right for what situation?

CSS tools and examples

An introduction to controlling HTML document appearance with CSS. Microsoft and Netscape CSS support.

XSL tools and examples

An introduction to the draft XSL standard: how does it provide for associating simple styles with tags you add to your HTML documents, or for defining a completely new style for XML documents? Major-vendor and freeware tools for XSL [not identifiable at press time, but will be available by seminar date].

DSSSL tools and examples

An introduction to DSSSL style and expression languages: The JADE DSSSL engine. Other public-domain DSSSL tools.

Summary conclusions

What should your company be doing about style sheets?

The Tutorial Presenter

Henry S. Thompson is Reader in Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh, where he is chiefly engaged in research and research management in various areas of language and information in the Language Technology Group of the Human Communication Research Centre. He has published several language research corpora on CD-ROM, and has developed software systems for SGML and DSSSL. He is a member of the W3C SGML Working Group, responsible for the recently-released draft XML spec, and is currently working on a public-domain reference implementation of the DSSSL standard. He is also a co-author of the XSL proposal, and is working on integrating XSL support into JADE.

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