As you know I'm someone who has modified the Cookbook stylesheets pretty
extensively.  Like Chatham, I would say XSLT is not easy, but on
the other hand I do not think you need a lot of knowledge of XSLT per se
to modify the Cookbook stylesheets.  You do need a little (but not much)
of a programming background.  In other words, you need to know how if. .
then, foreach, etc. work.  The most difficult aspect to understand is that
XSLT is not a procedure-driven language, but that it relies on pattern
matching of rules, and that one therefore does not "call" subroutines
in the usual sense.  It took me a while to grasp that.

I started modifying the stylesheets after studying the overall structure
of the stylesheet and some of the logic in the templates you wrote.  When
I got stuck and needed to do more, I got of copy of Michael Kay's XSLT
programmer's reference.

One of the things that makes modifying them fairly difficult is the amount
of redundancy.  For example, the code that formats the
<unittitle> and <unitdate> in the component levels repeats nearly a
hundred times.  So if some of this could be pulled into a single template,
it would make the stylesheet a lot easier to modify.  Right now, one has to
do find and replace operations that I have only been able to do in Note
Tab, since other editors choke on large amounts of text.

My feeling is that XSLT training could best be handled through a one day
SAA workshop, based around modifying the Cookbook stylesheets.  One could
give enough training so that even those with no programming know could modify
them.  And anyone with the desire to do more would leave with the
tools to be able to play around and eventually write their own.

Chris Prom
Assistant University Archivist
University of Illinois Archives
Room 19 Library (MC-522)
1408 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801

e-mail: [log in to unmask]
phone:  217 333 0798
fax:    217 333 2868

On Wed, 12 Sep 2001, Chatham Ewing wrote:

> On Mon, 10 Sep 2001, Fox, Michael wrote:
> >     With respect to instruction on XSLT, there have been a number of
> > discussions about advanced EAD training in this area.  I know that the SAA
> > education office would welcome any suggestions.
> >
> >     The issues and options revolve around a series of questions- does this
> > training require hands-on, interactive instruction, if so, would it have to
> > be in-person or would one of the new technologies for distance learning be
> > employed, if that is possible, what would the logistics be, what would the
> > prerequisites be for such a course, who would develop the learning
> > materials, could one create something that would be just a mini-course- say
> > enough to modify something in the EAD Cookbook stylesheets, is that even
> > possible or does one really need a more fundamental understanding of XSLT
> > even to do a little tinkering.   And there are others.
> >
> >     It would be interesting to hear from some of the self-taught XSL-enabled
> > archivists out there.
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Amy McCrory [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> > Sent: Monday, September 10, 2001 2:44 PM
> > To: [log in to unmask]
> > Subject: style sheets
> >
> >
> > A basic question about the role of style sheets in the presentation of
> > finding aids:
> >
> > In a finding aid where a regularly occuring element will always be
> > presented a certain way, what is the best approach?  For instance, if I
> > want the <unittitle> in a <c02> to always appear in bold, should I
> > designate this in the template or with a stylesheet?
> >
> > Also, I am interested in reading some guidelines for modifying style
> > sheets.  The information I have located so far is quite sophisticated,
> > geared toward people who already understand XSL and the like.  Is there
> > anything available that goes beyond the basic guidelines in the EAD
> > Cookbook--but not too far beyond?
> >
> > Amy McCrory
> > Project Archivist
> > Cartoon Research Library
> > Ohio State University
> > Columbus, OH 43212 USA
> > (614) 292-0538
> >