The Mystical Principles of XSLT
Enlightenment through Software Visualization
Lenz Consulting Group, Inc.
The mature XSLT developer has an inner seeing about how a stylesheet works that can seem almost mystical to an outsider. But demystification is possible using an XSLT visualizer, making the structure of a transformation visible. Due to its functional nature, XSLT is particularly well-suited to software visualization, because an XSLT transformation can be represented and viewed as a static dataset. A subset of XSLT visualization (using a “trace-enabled” stylesheet to generate representations of transformation relationships) was used to empower non-programming staff to predict, understand, and manipulate content enrichment rules. We would like to generalize these case-specific techniques into a general tool for XSLT. There are challenges including scalability (memory usage), what to visualize and what not to, avoiding noise for the user, and whether to store annotations externally or within the result document.