I'm another self-taught xsl human, and at least from my position as not
being much of a techie, I actually did *not* find learning the basics of xsl
all that difficult, though some of the more advanced parts can be a bit
tougher.  I chose not to borrow much from the cookbook stylesheets for some
technical reasons and, more importantly, for aesthetic reasons, but found it
useful to cannibalize from them a bit as well as from the American Institute
of Physics (thanks Clay and Joe), and incorporating suggestions from peers
at the Historical Society of Penns. and Swarthmore (thanks Rachel, Richard,
and Pat).

At the APS, I ended up writing *three* different stylesheets: one
corresponding to the xsl working draft recommendations used by Internet
Explorer, the second to the different and considerably more powerful version
1.0 used elsewhere, and the third (for controlling basic presentation,
color, font size, etc.) in css.  Both of the xsl sheets refer to the css
stylesheet.  This combination gives us maximum flexibility to display native
xml files (using the working draft version), to transform into static html
(using the Version 1.0, combined through Saxon, which I prefer as a parser
to XT) until such a time as I can get transform on the fly going, while
still maintaining a central, easily modified stylesheet for the most basic

That said, my experience with others in the Philly region suggests that the
lack of transparency in discussions of stylesheets has produced some anxiety
on the parts of some archivists, and anything to help develop even the most
basic skills in writing sheets would be beneficial.  It might also be a
*great* benefit to add other versions and other forms of stylesheets to the
minimal set available through the cookbook, perhaps with brief annotations,
so that people can mix and match, rewrite, steal, crib, cannibalize, or
ignore as they wish.  With knowledge of xsl not widely distributed --
despite its centrality to what we're all trying to do here -- having more
sheets available would be a lovely thing.

The stylesheets we use can be seen in action (or is that inaction) at  Comments to me off-line, if
you wish, and stylesheets available for cannibalization by whomever,
wherever.  We're open source.

--Rob Cox
Rob Cox
American Philosophical Society
105 South Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA   19106-3386