XSL stands for EXtensible Stylesheet Language.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) started to develop XSL because there was a need for an XML-based Stylesheet Language.
HTML uses predefined tags, and the meaning of each tag is well understood.
The <table> tag in HTML defines a table - and a browser knows how to display it.
Adding styles to HTML elements are simple. Telling a browser to display an element in a special font or color, is easy with CSS.
XML does not use predefined tags (we can use any tag-names we like), and therefore the meaning of each tag is not well understood.
A <table> tag could mean an HTML table, a piece of furniture, or something else - and a browser does not know how to display it.
XSL describes how the XML document should be displayed!
XSL originally consisted of three parts:
Later, W3C added XQuery (a language for querying XML documents), to the XSL family.
|With the CSS3 Paged Media Module, W3C has delivered a new standard for document formatting. So, since 2013, CSS3 is proposed as an XSL-FO replacement.|
The rest of this tutorial is about XSLT - the language for transforming XML documents.