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XSLT Introduction


XSLT is a language for transforming XML documents into XHTML documents or to other XML documents.

XPath is a language for navigating in XML documents.


What You Should Already Know

Before you continue you should have a basic understanding of the following:

  • HTML / XHTML
  • XML / XML Namespaces
  • XPath

If you want to study these subjects first, find the tutorials on our Home page.


What is XSLT?

  • XSLT stands for XSL Transformations
  • XSLT is the most important part of XSL
  • XSLT transforms an XML document into another XML document
  • XSLT uses XPath to navigate in XML documents
  • XSLT is a W3C Recommendation

XSLT = XSL Transformations

XSLT is the most important part of XSL.

XSLT is used to transform an XML document into another XML document, or another type of document that is recognized by a browser, like HTML and XHTML. Normally XSLT does this by transforming each XML element into an (X)HTML element.

With XSLT you can add/remove elements and attributes to or from the output file. You can also rearrange and sort elements, perform tests and make decisions about which elements to hide and display, and a lot more.

A common way to describe the transformation process is to say that XSLT transforms an XML source-tree into an XML result-tree.


XSLT Uses XPath

XSLT uses XPath to find information in an XML document. XPath is used to navigate through elements and attributes in XML documents.

If you want to study XPath first, please read our XPath Tutorial.


How Does it Work?

In the transformation process, XSLT uses XPath to define parts of the source document that should match one or more predefined templates. When a match is found, XSLT will transform the matching part of the source document into the result document.


XSLT Browser Support

All major browsers have support for XML and XSLT.

Internet Explorer supports XML, XSLT, and XPath from version 6.

Chrome supports XML, XSLT, and XPath from version 1.

Firefox supports XML, XSLT, and XPath from version 3.

Safari supports XML and XSLT from version 3.

Opera supports XML, XSLT, and XPath from version 9.


XSLT is a W3C Recommendation

XSLT became a W3C Recommendation 16. November 1999.



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