Category Archives: XSL

Indexing Functionality in FOP

Anyone reading this who happens to be involved in the development of FOP, Apache’s open source XSL-FO engine? If I ask you really nicely and politely, would you please consider implementing XSL-FO 1.1 index handling?

Alternatively, can you recommend a FO engine that is capable of index handling but costs less than RenderX’s XEP or Antenna House’s XSL Formatter?


How come a web-based XML editor can call itself a “WYSIWYG editor”? WYSIWYG, per definition, stands for What You See Is What You get, but that’s just madness in this context, for several reasons:

First of all, XML is supposed to be about semantics and structure, not about contents and presentation. The idea is that you present your XML according to your media. On paper, a certain layout is desired, with page numbers, page references, and so on. Online, you need hyperlinks, sans serif fonts, and so on. On a mobile phone’s two-inch screen, you need to break down yur information to short chunks with short titles and captins. And so on.

Furthermore, different web browsers will display a web page differently. A page displayed using Internet Explorer will not be identical to the the same page in Firefox. Sure, they are close these days, but not the same.

And finally, when displaying XML in something other than a pure text editor, you apply a stylesheet of some kind. CSS is common; XMetaL uses it, as does Oxygen. Web-based XML editors often use a combination of XSLT and CSS, so two stylesheets, not one.

Isn’t this the exact opposite of WYSIWYG? You get further away from what XML actually looks like while not getting closer to the published result.

WYSIWYG, in the context of XML and structured documentation, is in my humble opinion a marketing ploy by companies that seem to have little else to offer.

Oxygen 9.0 Is Out

Version 9.0 of my favourite XSL IDE, Oxygen, was released yesterday. Of course, I downloaded and installed it as soon as I could, having waited for an upgrade since 8.2 came out, some six months ago. I’ve written about Oxygen before; it’s the first decent XSL IDE available for Linux, and the more I’ve used it, the more I’ve come to depend on it. See, what I especially like is the fact that I no longer need Microsoft Windows to do my XML/XSL work. Oxygen works very well in Debian/GNU Linux.

And now, it looks like I can finally re-evaluate my XML editor needs, too. So far, I’ve run XMetaL in wine, which kind of works except that right-clicking the workspace still crashes the program (but that’s fairly OK since I seldom need to right-click anything while writing). As most things in wine, it’s beta quality, no more.

Now, however, Oxygen 9.0 comes with a semi-WYSIWYG view, with CSS formatting and start- and end tag symbols, making it the first real alternative to running Windows software in wine. It is reasonably fast, too, from what I’ve seen so far, and certainly more stable than anything run in wine. You do need an official Sun Java JRE, though; it will complain if you use some of the Java replacements available for Linux, and it doesn’t work with the GNU libgcj Java Virtual Machine.

I’ll give it a more thorough test run within the next week or so, but I’m hoping that it can deliver what it promises.