Re: XSLT Training and Word Woes - Cross Posted to XML-DOC

Subject: Re: XSLT Training and Word Woes - Cross Posted to XML-DOC
From: <puff -at- guild -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 15:42:03 -0400

Karen Koldyk (kkoldyk -at- email -dot- fleming -dot- com) writes:
> Can anyone point me to some good sources for XSLT training? I would
> also need to narrow down the better books on XSLT and CSS.

Er... XSLT "training"? XSLT is a fairly funky data
transformation language and it's pretty cutting edge for a tech
writer. I know a fair number of programmers who found it non-trivial
to learn (including me :-). On the other hand, if you r needs are
fairly trivial, you might be able to master enough for your own
purposes. XSLT excels at straight XML Structure - to - XML Structure
transformations, so those are the easiest thing to do in XSLT.

Generally I'd suggest you get O'Reilly's _XML in a Nutshell_
(which includes a reference section on XSLT) and you might want to get
the Wrox XSLT book. Neither of these are targeted at non-programmers,
however they are of execellent information quality. Depending on your
platform you will probably want to get some platform specific docs
(e.g. if you're using Java XML/XSLT tools you'd get O'Reilly's _Java
and XML_).

> I was not aware that there WOULD be any legacy data to convert.
> I was originally told this would all be NEW information with the
> exception of documents I do in Framemaker which are well formed
> simply because I'm strict.

The classic software project killer - shifting requirements. If
you have this anywhere on paper, (or even have a "this iswhat we
expect the new system to have to do" which does NOT include legacy
data) then I strongly suggest you bring it up with your manager and
point out that you are more than willing to "take on this additional
responsibility, given appropriate resources to meet the expanded

> I was also aware of 3000 pages of Word docs which I figured would
> need some work but that's not much to fix up when I saw they were
> fairly consistant........ Now I'm finding out we have several
> thousand pages of Word docs which although structured are tagged
> with mainly H1, H2 and NORMAL. If anyone has any ideas on how to
> get styles applied very quickly to about 10000 pages of table type
> text, screen shots and visio graphics so they can then be mapped for
> conversion I would sure be willing to listen!!

Hm... if that's truly what you have, there are no tools that will
help you (short of some specialized GUIs to make the ergonomics of
selecting and applying the styles easier). If anything existed, it
would not be an XML tool (other than in the sense of helping you to
get into XML). XML is not focused on importing documents, it's
focused on manipulating documents once you've imported them.

> As I see it right now, my budget will likely cover DTD writing,
> mapper files, and interface changes to the editor. I think I'll
> have to do all the stylesheet writing unless I can plead more
> money.

You may be able to find some point & click tools for assembling
simple XSLT stylesheets. Whether they'll be available for a sane price
is another question; most of the toolspace to-date is "Enterprise"
directed (meaning bump the price up by two orders of magnitude for
adding the word "Enterprise" to the name).

Steven J. Owens
puff -at- guild -dot- net


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