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Description Creates an element with the specified name. The namespace attribute indicates the URI of the created element, if any. The <xsl:element> element contains a template for the attributes and children of the created element. Creates an attribute node and attaches it to an output element. The name attribute denotes the name of the attribute, and namespace indicates the namespace URI, if any. The contents of this element specify the value of the attribute. Note that <xsl:attribute> can also be used directly on output elements, not only in conjunction with <xsl:element>.
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Table 7-4: XSLT Instructions for Layout Instruction <xsl:processing-instruction name=" "> </xsl:processing-instruction>
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Description Generates a processing instruction in the output text. The name attribute represents the name of the processing instruction. The contents of the element provide the text of the processing instruction. Generates a comment node in the output text. The text generated by the body of <xsl:comment> appears between the typical comment wrappers <!-- and -->.
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In addition to the instructions described in this section, the XSLT vocabulary contains a few more elements to define data-bound variables (<xsl:variable>), raw text (<xsl:text>), or numbers (<xsl:number>). In particular, a data-bound variable can be given a name and its value calculated either by evaluating an XPath expression or by applying the template in the body of the tag. After our brief but intensive tour of the XSLT programming interface, let's see how to turn some of these instructions into concrete calls in a real XSLT script. We'll look at a couple of typical examples: converting XML documents to HTML pages, and transforming an XML document into an equivalent schema. From XML to HTML Let's return to our faithful XML document (data.xml) from previous chapters and turn it into a compelling HTML page. This sample XML document contains information about the employees in the Northwind database's Employees table. The idea is to create a final HTML page that renders the information about employees through a table. The structure of the XSLT script is shown in the following code: <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="" version="1.0"> <xsl:template match="/"> <HTML> <BODY> <H1>Northwind's Employees</H1> <TABLE> <xsl:apply-templates select="MyDataSet/NorthwindEmployees/Employee" /> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML> </xsl:template> 244
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more templates here </xsl:stylesheet> As the match attribute indicates, the main <xsl:template> instruction applies to the root of the XML document. The XSLT script produces a simple HTML page with a fixed H1 heading and a table. The table is generated by applying all matching templates to the nodes that match the following XPath expression: MyDataSet/NorthwindEmployees/Employee The actual templates that make the final HTML page are defined later in the document. To start off, you define a template for each <Employee> node, as shown here: <xsl:template match="Employee"> <TR> <xsl:apply-templates select="employeeid" /> <xsl:apply-templates select="lastname" /> <xsl:apply-templates select="title" /> </TR> </xsl:template> The template defines a wrapper table row and then calls into the child templates, one for each significant piece of information to be rendered. As you've probably guessed, each child template defines a table cell. For example, the following template selects the <employeeid> node below the current Employee and renders the text of the node in boldface: <xsl:template match="employeeid"> <TD bgcolor="yellow" style="border:1px solid black"> <B><xsl:value-of select="." /></B> </TD> </xsl:template> As you can see, the node selection is always performed using XPath expressions. The "." expression for the <xsl:value-of> node refers to the text of the current node. A similar pattern is used for other templates, as follows: <xsl:template match="lastname"> <TD style="border:1px solid black"> <B><xsl:value-of select="."/></B>, <xsl:value-of select="../firstname"/> </TD> </xsl:template> <xsl:template match="title"> <TD style="border:1px solid black"> <I><xsl:value-of select="."/></I> 245
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</TD> </xsl:template> In the first template, the context node is <lastname>, but at a certain point, we need to access a sibling node the <firstname> node. The XPath syntax includes the doubledot symbol (..), which is a shortcut for the parent of the current context node. (See 6.) The final HTML output for the source XML document is shown Figure 7-3.
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Figure 7-3: The HTML page generated from a source XML file. To display the HTML output as plain text, you must perform the transformation programmatically, using either the MSXML object model or the newest .NET Framework classes. Alternatively, you can view the output using a specialized browser with the direct browsing functionality. Microsoft Internet Explorer has provided this capability since version 5.0. Linking the Style Sheet to the HTML Page Internet Explorer applies a silent and automatic transformation to all XML documents you view through it. However, an XML document can override the default Internet Explorer style sheet by using a processing instruction that simply links an XSLT script. The following code demonstrates how to add the style sheet from the previous section (emplist.xsl) to the source file (data.xml) so that double-clicking it generates the output shown in Figure 7-3. A style sheet can have either a .xsl or a .xml extension. <!-- Directly browsable using a custom XSLT script --> < xml-stylesheet type="text/xsl" href="emplist.xsl" > You register a style sheet with an XML document using a processing instruction with a couple of attributes: type and href. The type attribute must be set to the string text/xsl. The href attribute instead references the URL of the XSLT script. If you insert more than one processing instruction for XSLT scripts, only the final instruction will be considered. Calling Templates The previous example used <xsl:apply-templates> exclusively to perform templatebased transformations. When you know that only one template applies to a given block 246
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of XML source code, you might want to use a more direct instruction: <xsl:calltemplate>. If you plan to use the <xsl:call-template> instruction, you must first give the target template a name. For example, the following code defines a template named EmployeeIdTemplate: <xsl:template name="EmployeeIdTemplate"> <TD bgcolor="yellow" style="border:1px solid black"> <B><xsl:value-of select="employeeid"/></B> </TD> </xsl:template> How do you call into this template Just use the following code: <xsl:template match="Employee"> <TR> <xsl:call-template name="EmployeeIdTemplate" /> <xsl:apply-templates select="lastname" /> <xsl:apply-templates select="title" /> </TR> </xsl:template> There is one difference you should be aware of. With <xsl:apply-templates>, you use the select attribute to select a node-set for the template, as shown here: <xsl:apply-templates select="employeeid" /> As a result, the template works on the <employeeid> node and retrieves the value with the following expression: <xsl:value-of select="." /> When you use the <xsl:call-template> instruction, on the other hand, you call the template by name, but it works on the currently selected context node. The ongoing context node is <Employee>, and you must explicitly indicate the child node in the body of <xsl:value-of>, as shown here: <xsl:value-of select="employeeid" /> From Schema to Schema Transforming an XML document into an XML document with another schema is in no way different from transforming XML into HTML. The real difference is that you use another target XML vocabulary. The following XSLT script is designed to simplify the structure of our sample data.xml file. The original file is structured like this: <MyDataSet> <NorthwindEmployees> <Employee> <employeeid> </employeeid> <lastname> </lastname> 247
<firstname> </firstname> <title> </title> </Employee> </NorthwindEmployees> </MyDataSet> The expected target schema is simpler and contains only two levels of nodes, as shown in the following code. In addition, all employee information is now coded using attributes instead of child nodes, and last and first names are merged into a single value. <Employees database="northwind"> <Employee id="1" name="Davolio, Nancy" title="Sales Representative" /> </Employee> </Employees> The following script performs the magic: <xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl="" version="1.0"> <xsl:template match="MyDataSet/NorthwindEmployees"> <Employees database="northwind"> <xsl:for-each select="Employee"> <xsl:element name="Employee"> <xsl:attribute name="id"> <xsl:value-of select="employeeid" /> </xsl:attribute> <xsl:attribute name="name"> <xsl:value-of select="lastname" />, <xsl:value-of select="firstname" /> </xsl:attribute> <xsl:attribute name="title"> <xsl:value-of select="title" /> </xsl:attribute> </xsl:element> </xsl:for-each> </Employees> </xsl:template> </xsl:stylesheet>
This script includes only one template rooted in the <NorthwindEmployees> node and creates a new element for each child <Employee> node. The node has a few attributes: id, name, and title. The <xsl:value-of> instruction is used to read node values into the newly created attributes. The final output is shown here: < xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" > <Employees database="northwind"> <Employee id="1" name="Davolio, Nancy" title="Sales Representative"></Employee> <Employee id="2" name="Fuller, Andrew" title="Vice President, Sales"></Employee> <Employee id="3" name="Leverling, Janet" title="Sales Representative"></Employee> <Employee id="4" name="Peacock, Margaret" title="Sales Representative"></Employee> <Employee id="5" name="Buchanan, Steve" title="Sales Manager"></Employee> <Employee id="6" name="Suyama, Michael" title="Sales Representative"></Employee> <Employee id="7" name="King, Robert" title="Sales Representative"></Employee> <Employee id="8" name="Callahan, Laura" title="Inside Sales Coordinator"></Employee> <Employee id="9" name="Dodsworth, Anne" title="Sales Representative"></Employee> </Employees> As you can see, transforming XML into another arbitrary text-based language is simply a matter of becoming familiar with a relatively small vocabulary of ad hoc tags. The XSLT vocabulary is a bit peculiar because some of its tags look a lot like high-level programming language statements. But grasping the essence of XSLT is not all that difficult.
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