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Old March 23rd, 2005, 01:50 PM
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Default beginner xslt processor question

I'm looking for some information to help me select an XSLT processing tool, particularly between Saxon and Xalan. One tool that I'll be implementing soon uses Xalan, but I've used Saxon and some Saxon extensions in the past and found those useful. I know there are some biases within this forum:), but there may be extenuating circumstances in my case.

Are there typically complementary extensions for Saxon and Xalan? Are there other factors that should be considered other than the availability of extensions? Are Saxon and Xalan completely interchangeable if I'm able to stay away from extensions?

Any advice would be appreciated.

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Old March 23rd, 2005, 02:06 PM
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You need to consider whether you want to use XSLT 2.0. For doing anything but the simplest transformations, features in XSLT 2.0 make your life vastly easier (for example, grouping and regular expression processing). XSLT 2.0 is becoming very stable but it's not yet a firm recommendation. On the other hand, using XSLT 2.0 features is much "safer" than using any vendor's extensions to XSLT 1.0. If you decide to run with XSLT 2.0, then Saxon 8 is really only your only realistic choice at the moment. (XML Spy has support, but it's very early). If you decide to stick with XSLT 1.0, then you have a wide choice of mature products and there's not much to choose between the good ones. In fact, Xalan and Saxon 6 are very interchangeable and many people don't actually know which one they are using. It's therefore not a big decision, because you can change your mind at any time.

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Old March 24th, 2005, 08:01 AM
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Thanks for highlighting XSLT 2. I wasn't aware of the significance of the new feature set. I'll take a closer look at that.

When you say
Quote:
quote:Originally posted by mhkay Xalan and Saxon 6 are very interchangeable and many people don't actually know which one they are using. It's therefore not a big decision, because you can change your mind at any time.
does that assume there are no extensions involved? If I'm using, for example, saxon:assign, is there an identical xalan:assign or will the saxon extension work with xalan? I was under the (perhaps false) impression that extensions are processor-specific. Is the same true for third party extensions? I haven't considered those at this time.

Thanks for the help.

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Old March 24th, 2005, 08:41 AM
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There are certainly extensions in each of the processors. But many of the most useful ones are available in the EXSLT library, which is widely supported across XSLT 1.0 processors (see www.exslt.org).

saxon:assign won't work with Xalan - but I wouldn't advise using it with Saxon either. It's one of those things like disable-output-escaping that should only be used as a last resort. Unfortunately this isn't always realised by beginners, who tend not to realise how much you can achieve in XSLT - even XSLT 1.0 - without touching extensions.

Michael Kay
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