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Formatting Objects - do they exist in the real world?

Kevin Thompson
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Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
OK - I admit it - I took the exam and did not pass. I am studying the areas I am weak in, and plan to re-take it.
MY CONCERN ABOUT FORMATTING OBJECTS: Do they exist in the real world (used in production web sites somewhere) or are they "just for pretend"?
According to Chapter 18 of the book - "XML Bible (2nd Edition) : A Word of Caution about XSL Formatting Objects ==> There are no Web browsers that can display a document written with XSL formatting objects. http://www.ibiblio.org/xml/books/bible2/chapters/ch18.html
If it is true that no web browsers can use it, and there are no real world examples of formatting objects being used in a production environment, how am I to evaluate exam scenario questions with formatting objects as a possible answer?
Should I assume that formatting objects are a real world thing?
This is the first of this sort of question that I have seen with the XML Exam. The rest of the questions are "more normal".
thanks!
John Wetherbie
Rancher

Joined: Apr 05, 2000
Posts: 1449
Yes, XSL-FO is real-world but it isn't in nearly as much use as XSLT. An example of a real-world application is fop (Apache Foundation) that takes XSL-FO and genrates PDF.
Hope that helps some.


The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen all at once.
- Buckaroo Banzai
Syed AliRaza Zaidi
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Joined: May 12, 2002
Posts: 169
Well My Freind XSL Formatting Objects exist in a real world but they are not commonly used I am not talking about only browser but also PDF's and Vrml files.
Secondly as far as IBM Exam is concerned you can see that there will be rarely a parser which supports Views in DOM API. Pls there is not even a single parser by which you can give true implementation of XLinks so few things are abstract right now you can not translate bidriectional complex links to simple HTML because HTML donot support it.
What you need to do is just read them as formality
Kevin Thompson
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
thanks John & Syed.
However, I still don't have a strategy on how to handle these type of questions. HERE IS EXAMPLE QUESTION FROM THE CURRENT IBM MOCK EXAM(edited slightly to make my point)==>
An XML developer is formatting XML output to HTML for multiple client types. Client memory footprint is a consideration. Which of the following approaches would BEST suit this environment?
a)use Formatting Objects to apply style
b)let the client process both XML and the XSL documents
c)user server-side XSL Transformation and embed CSS2 style information in the xsl:template actions.
///////////////////////////////////////////
I have two ways of interpretting possible answer "a)".
First Interpretation of possible answer "a)":
Formatting Objects ONLY exist in the real world in very small areas (Apache FOP, etc.). Since the question does not mention these very small specific areas, this can not possily be a correct answer.
Second Interpretation of possible answer "a)":
Formatting Objects SHOULD be considered as a possible answer, because at a future date, browsers WILL be able to interpret formatting objects, so formatting objects is a possibly correct answer and is to be considered along side the other real world possible answer of CSS2(Cascading Style Sheets 2).
thanks!
[ December 08, 2002: Message edited by: Kevin Thompson ]
Dan Drillich
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 09, 2001
Posts: 1180
Kevin,
Most likely the correct answer is C, because:
'multiple client types' - XSLT will do it.
'Client memory footprint is a consideration' - the C solution puts very little burden on the client.
Cheers,
Dan


William Butler Yeats: All life is a preparation for something that probably will never happen. Unless you make it happen.
Kevin Thompson
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
thanks dan.
However, I don't think we all all "on the same wavelength" here on this post. I am abbreviating my point down to the absolute minimalist view:
Sample Scenario Question on Exam:
A long story .... details do not really matter..... blah blah....more long story....
Possible Answers Provided:
a)....FO.... blah blah...
b)....CSS....blah blah...
c)....still yet another choice involving XML technology .. blah blah...
When it comes to a test strategy regarding possible answer selection "a)" which of the following is a good strategy?
How should I interpret possible answer "a)"?
Strategy 01: FORMATTING OBJECTS ARE REAL WORLD
I should consider formatting objects to be real choice - just like CSS are a real world choice. This is because FO specifications are soon to be implemented, and if nobody actually uses them right now this minute - that is beside the point.
Strategy 02: FORMATTING OBJECTS ARE BOGUS
Formatting Object is a bogus answer under all circumstances. They do not exist in the real world (other than very small specific areas which are nowhere in the scenario text.)
thanks!
Dan Drillich
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 09, 2001
Posts: 1180
Kevin,
"Professional Java Server Programming (J2EE Edition)" gives an historic perspective on the subject-
- Styling XML with XSLT -
The history of XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language) has been brief but eventful. Work on XSL started in 1997, with the goal of producing a stylesheet language for specifying how an XML document is to be displayed in the browser. The goal has not yet been reached. In the meantime, two other specifications, both having to do with transforming rather that formatting XML, became Recommendations in November 1999, even though they did not exist as independent projects until fairly late in that year. As the XSL project unfolded, different parts of it grew at different speeds, and their relative importance and state of preparedness changed. Eventually, XSLT and XPath got carved out into separate products and completed, while the document formatting is still in Working Draft.
It was obvious from the beginning that a stylesheet language was needed for XML to function: if users can define their own elements, they have to be able to specify how those elements will look when displayed in the browser window or other media. Similarly, the intent to make the stylesheet language more powerful than CSS existed from the beginning. CSS, as we have seen, has a good deal of control over how different elements are displayed, but very little control over what gets displayed and in what order. XSL was intended to be able to add, remove, and reorder the elements of the document tree so that, for instance, the stylesheet could handle multiple reports for a database table, showing different fields and sorting records in different ways.
Initially, the tree-transformation part of XSL was just an aid to the formatting part, but it proved to be easier to develop and build a consensus about. As XML's role was evolving from a tool for document markup to being (also) a tool for data interchange between applications and components of applications, the transformation 'module' was developing an independent significance, totally unrelated to formatting and display, and the single XSL split into XSL for Formatting and XSL for Transformation (XSLT).
The XSLT part was taken over by James Clark, who brought it to a swift completion while at the same time producing xt,a fully compliant reference implementation of the XSLT processor....

Cheers,
Dan
Kevin Thompson
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 04, 2001
Posts: 237
thanks dan. However, what is your choice of strategies? Strategy 01) or Strategy 02) as I outlined above?
At this point - my own exam taking strategy will be: Strategy 02) FORMATTING OBJECTS ARE BOGUS.
This means that I will NOT select Formatting Objects as a possible answer on the IBM XML Exam scenario questions. Formatting Objects is a trick answer, because they do not yet exist in the real world.
thanks.
Dan Drillich
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 09, 2001
Posts: 1180
As long as you deal with the Web, you are right. But if you are to print an XML document on paper then XSL-FO might be the right choice for formatting the document.
 
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