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XSLT Cookbook

Date:      Thu, 23 Aug 2001 16:53:14 -0700
From:      Paul Prescod <>
To:        "" <>
Subject:   Announce: XSLT Cookbook

The XSLT Cookbook is a new project based on a very successful experiment that ActiveState and O'Reilly did called the Python Cookbook. The idea of an online Cookbook is to get people to contribute "recipes" that other people could then take and use in their programs. In the case of the XSLT Cookbook, we are of course talking about XSLT snippets to be used in stylesheets and transformations.


A Cookbook is not a FAQ because it only deals with snippets of code and discussions around them. It doesn't talk about implementation issues or deep language semantics or anything other than snippets of code. Unlike a FAQ, a Cookbook is completely community run. The "editor" just cleans up around the edges. People from the community submit recipes without editor supervision and the community can add commentary, ratings and alternatives. Using this buzzward-compliant distributed, peer-to-peer, web-services strategy, the Python world has collected almost 200 recipes and these recipes contribute to Python discussion lists and Python culture. I hope the same will occur for XSLT. It really depends on whether the community decides to use it or not.

Note that a Cookbook is also very different than a collection of code in a library such as EXSLT or the XSLT Standard Library. The nice thing about a library is that you directly plug in using import/include. People who maintain these libraries often get submissions of code that cannot really be turned into a straight-forward, reusable set of templates because they are more ideas or patterns than concrete reusable code. If you can package up some XSLT code as a library, great: you should do that. A Cookbook is for the stuff that cannot be so nicely packaged. XPath expressions are a perfect example.

I've discussed this with Steve Ball of the XSLT Standard Library and he sees the projects as complimentary. I certainly hope that some of the recipes will build on the code libraries out there: "This recipe shows how to use EXSLT to do X". Cookbook recipes can also be discussed in comments and rated by end-users.

Right now the XSLT Cookbook is very small because the XSLT community has not yet been invited to start building it. Consider this an invitation! We need recipes in all categories and we may even add categories as we get recipes (e.g., we'd love to fill in SVG and FO categories).

We are working hard to integrate the XSLT Cookbook with the next version of our Komodo XML/XSLT/Python/Perl/PHP development environment. It will soon be possible to submit and download cookbook recipes right from within Komodo. When you combine the XSLT Cookbook with the free educational license for Komodo you have a really excellent environment for teaching or learning XSLT. In the longer term we will also add this feature to our Visual XSLT environment, probably after Visual Studio.NET ships.

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. For related resources, see "Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL/XSLT)."

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