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Crash Course: XSLT and XPath in Your Organization

 

 

The lifeblood of any enterprise IT environment is the data that moves among users, applications and external systems. As the environment changes, user needs and application demands force us to adjust the nature of these data flows.

The Extensible Stylesheet Language recommendations from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) describe two useful technologies that offer a mechanism to adapt these data flows to both our needs and the needs of our users: XSL Transformations provide a language to transform XML documents, and XPath supplies a tool to identify particular elements in an XML document. Combining XSLT and XPath with a programming language that implements them is an affordable way for small businesses to deploy cutting-edge technologies.

The XSLT/XPath combo offers an excellent solution to a specific need common to almost every IT organization: maximize the value of data by ensuring that it is always structured so users and applications can derive the most use from it. XSLT 1.0 and XPath 1.0 have been available since November 1999, and the W3C is in the process of revising both standards extensively. In fact, as this article was being written, both XSLT 2.0 and XPath 2.0 were at the Candidate Recommendation stage.

While your development staff may choose to adopt XSLT and XPath, there is another way these technologies will be encountered: XSLT and XPath underpin many enterprise applications that process XML data structures.

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