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XML and XSL

Paul (28 May 2004 19:08): So I got this part time temp programming job at a Harvard library. One existing program takes XML code in one shape and convert to another shape. Apparently that's generally done with XSL. But the code written has a couple glitches they want me to fix. I'm a bit suspicious of XML; in particular, I think it's odd to allow ="attributes"; like, when is <book title="hello"></book> better than <book><title>hello</title></book>? And I'm very suspicious of XSL, because XSL is written in XML. Isn't that wacky? Like, to say if $foo==6 {...}, you say <xsl:if test="$foo=6">...</xsl:if>.
Paul (3 Jun 2004 7:40): I found out one idea about XSL that might make more sense: it's designed to be parsed in an arbitrary order, with variables behaving as in math, not as in CS. So you can't say, x=x+1, but you can use x before setting it (provided you respect scope and no-circular-references). But I still think the XML-based syntax makes it a bit hideous.