Inasmuch as few people yet have much (or any) experience using XSLT 3.0 on more than toy examples, https://github.com/MenteaXML/xslt3testbed is a public, medium-sized XSLT 3.0 project where people could try out new XSLT 3.0 features on the transformations to (X)HTML(5) and XSL-FO that are what we do most often and, along the way, maybe come up with new design patterns for doing transformations using the higher-order functions, partial function application, and other goodies that XSLT 3.0 gives us. Continue reading
Inasmuch as I was talking at Balisage about adapting the Saxon-CE event model to XSL-FO, I ended up talking with Lauren Wood and Matt Patterson about the general case for a XSLT 2.0 processor, or a processor for a subset of XSLT 2.0, that could be used in language bindings and web browsers as a replacement for the stuck-at-XSLT-1.0 libXSLT processor.
Since we were going to talk about it more at the XML Summer School anyway, I did a five-minute lightning talk (slides) at the “unconference sessions”. Happily, it got more people at the Summer School trying things. Michael Kay of Saxonica was at the presentation, and not only did he welcome the idea of compiling Saxon to C, Saxonica now state that they’re looking at the possibility.
Inasmuch as the offer’s open a bit longer, you can still use the XML13 discount code for a 10% discount on your fees for this year’s XML Summer School.
This year, with Patricia Walmsley, I’m teaching Improving stylesheets through the use of advanced features in the XSLT and XQuery track:
Most XSLT developers stick to a familiar core set of XPath and XSLT instructions and functions. There are a number of advanced features, many of them introduced in version 2.0, that appear only rarely in stylesheets even though they can be very useful in certain situations. In this course, we will explore some of these less-used features, showing interactively how they can be applied to improve existing XSLT stylesheets. XPath features covered will include operators like
>>, quantified expressions, and 2.0 functions that can significantly simplify your stylesheets. XSLT features covered will include grouping, regular expression matching and advanced modularization using modes and instructions like
Other sessions in the track are XSLT Efficiency and Effectiveness taught by Michael Kay, Querying XML Databases with XQuery taught by Adam Retter, and Trends in XSLT/XQuery taught by Florent Georges, while the other tracks during the week are XML Primer, Hands-on Introduction to XML, Publishing With XML, Semantic Technologies, Trends and Transients, and Hands-on Web Publishing. There's also the evening events, such as punting, the formal dinner, and the unconference session, where I'm lined up to present a lightning talk.
Inasmuch as I’ve been using it for a while, here’s a shot of a Wiki that’s been in use around the world for making decisions about weighty subjects and that’s being used a lot now that I’m changing countries again: Continue reading
Inasmuch as the last twelve months of on-site contracting has been more remunerative than any twelve month period of my usual mix of mostly-off-site consulting and on-site training, it’s time to consider what’s next for Mentea and what I’ll be doing come September: will I be a consultant, a contractor, or (gasp) even an employee?
I have enjoyed the work and the company of my co-workers, but there’s a few points to note:
- Going “across the water” to England to work may be almost an Irish tradition, yet it has shown the undesirability of living away from home for extended periods
- Since I’ve not known what I’ll be doing after the contract ends, I’ve kept doing work for some of my consulting clients at nights and weekends, but that hasn’t always got them results as quickly as they would like and, frankly, it made a very poor lifestyle choice
- There’s been little time left for side projects (or, you may have noticed, for blog posts), yet I have many side projects related to XML, XSLT, and XSL-FO and would have more if I had the time – I don’t aspire to it, but I was interested to see that the .net awards has elevated side projects to being an award category of their own
- As a contractor rather than an employee, I don’t get sick leave or holiday pay, so catching a cold can (and did) cost me money, but I’m able once the contract ends to have a long break visiting family on the other side of the world and then going to Balisage
- As a contractor, I’ve also had the freedom to go to XML Prague and to the MultilingualWeb workshop in Rome without having to fret about departmental training budgets, how the events align with corporate goals, or using precious holiday days and my own money (though in a sense it was) if I did out of my own pocket, though I did miss the W3C “eBooks and I18n” workshop last week in Tokyo because of pressures of work, so to be a contractor isn’t to be a completely free agent, and if I was still or again a member of an active W3C WG, then multiple face-to-face meetings a year would strain my finances more than they would a large corporation’s
So what am I looking for? Firstly, a good, long break before I address the question for real after Balisage in August. Secondly, to be based back in Ireland, at least most of the time. Beyond that, it’s undecided. I’m not running away from consulting nor running towards either employment or more contracting. Consulting has been good to me, and been good for me since I can use a wide range of skills with different clients, but the difficulty has always been getting the right amount of work to arrive at just the right intervals so that I’m neither swamped nor starved for work.
Inasmuch as the Print and Page Layout Community Group at the W3C is looking at how to get feedback from the XSL formatter and I’ve also been reading about how Saxon-CE handles user input, I’m now wondering whether the same sort of pattern could be adapted to handling feedback from the XSL formatter. Saxon-CE does it through template rules that match the element that receives the event and are in a mode that reflects the type of event, and similarly an XSL formatter could trigger on exceptional events such as overflow occurring or even on mundane events such as completion of a page sequence, and the templates in the corresponding modes could match on either FOs in the FO tree or areas in the area tree. Continue reading
xsl:attribute-set is most often thought of for adding constant sets of XSL-FO properties, it’s easy to forget that, as it says in the XSLT 2.0 spec:
Evaluating the same attribute set more than once can produce different results, because although an attribute set does not have parameters, it may contain expressions or instructions whose value depends on the evaluation context. Continue reading
Inasmuch as a Windows partition that wouldn’t boot frustrated and inconvenienced me for nearly a week, and the solution, when I found it, took only a couple of minutes, I’m writing it up here.
The symptom when trying to boot into Windows was a black-and-white screen of death containing:
File: \Boot\BCD Status: 0xc0000034 Info: The Windows Boot Configuration Data file is missing required information
The official Microsoft advice at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927391/en-us didn’t help. What did work was the second option, “Manually Repairing the Windows Bootloader”, from http://neosmart.net/wiki/display/EBCD/Recovering+the+Windows+Bootloader+from+the+DVD:
attrib -h -s C:\boot\BCD del C:\boot\BCD bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd
Happily, I didn’t need to do the third, “Nuclear Holocaust” option from that page.
One, in the XSLT and XQuery track, is an update of the Developing and Testing in XSLT talk, again alongside Jeni Tennison, that got us such a good review last year:
Unit tests, profiling, debugging and, increasingly, test-driven development are part of the bread and butter of working with other programming languages but are not always so with XSLT or XQuery. In test-driven development, which is a fundamental part of agile approaches to software development, the developers write tests that describe the desired behaviour of their application, then write code that meets the tests. This style of development keeps code focused, avoids breaking existing code and facilitates refactoring.
In this session, Jeni Tennison and Tony Graham will describe both the state of the art in testing and debugging XSLT and XQuery and how test-driven development applies to XSLT and XQuery development. In particular, they will focus on the use of the XSpec testing framework.
The other, in the Publishing track, is XML and Publishing Workflows:
Some formats are better or worse than others for capturing and/or representing the information for publishing purposes. Can you create and manage life-cycle workflows which rationalise or regularise mixes of formats using XSLT and other XML toolsets? Should XML be the beginning of your publishing workflow, the hub format in the middle, the result, or all three? How can XSLT and related tools be used to cover up the deficiencies or excesses of the source XML? What are the arguments for moving authors towards submitting in XML (or not)? For moving editors?
Incorporating both live examples and war stories, Tony Graham will lead an examination of XML in publishing workflows, the advantages and disadvantages of using XML at each stage, and some of the tools and techniques available to you.
XML Summer School 2012 is on September 16–21 2012 at St Edmund Hall, Oxford University.
Inasmuch as I was in primary school in Australia when I first read it as a dead-tree book, it’s something of a turn for the books as well as a turn of the books that I’ve just finished reading Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood as an EPUB while living and working in Ireland and, now, England. I think at the time I would have found the medium even more unlikely than the geography, but as the ready availability of EPUB readers has given new life and new audiences to many out-of-copyright books, when I was first stocking up on EPUBs I specifically looked for the EPUB of Robbery Under Arms since I was unlikely to find it the dead-tree version in either an Irish library or an Irish bookstore.
“My name is Dick Marston” as the opening words of Robbery Under Arms may not have the recognition nor the ring of “Call me Ishmael” (though for a great young-adult read, Don’t Call Me Ishmael), but it is one of the great Australian novels. If you want to read the EPUB, a search for ‘”Robbery Under Arms” EPUB’ will turn up several sources.