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XSL Languages


It Started with XSL

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.


CSS = Style Sheets for HTML

HTML uses predefined tags. The meaning of, and how to display each tag is well understood.

CSS is used to add styles to HTML elements. 


XSL = Style Sheets for XML

XML does not use predefined tags, and therefore the meaning of each tag is not well understood.

A <table> element could indicate an HTML table, a piece of furniture, or something else - and browsers do not know how to display it!

So, XSL describes how the XML elements should be displayed.


XSL - More Than a Style Sheet Language

XSL consists of four parts:

  • XSLT - a language for transforming XML documents
  • XPath - a language for navigating in XML documents
  • XSL-FO - a language for formatting XML documents (discontinued in 2013)
  • XQuery - a language for querying XML documents
Note 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.


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