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I'm another self-taught xsl human, and although I am not 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 occasionally be a bit tougher.  I
chose not to borrow much from the cookbook stylesheets for a few technical
reasons and, more importantly, for aesthetic reasons, but I found them
useful to look at and enjoyed cannibalizing segments 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 some flexibility to display native
xml files (at least in IE, using the working draft stylesheet), to transform
into static html (using the Version 1.0, going through Saxon -- which I
prefer to XT).  Administratively, this solution works pretty adequately.

That said, my experience with others in the Philly region suggests that the
lack of serious discussion of stylesheets has produced some anxiety, and
*anything* to help develop even the most basic skills in writing sheets
would be beneficial.  In addition to an on-line course (there is plenty
on-line relating to xsl), it might also be a *great* benefit to add other
versions and other forms of stylesheets to the minimal set available of
sheets available through the cookbook, perhaps with brief annotations, so
that people can mix and match, rewrite, steal, crib, cannibalize, or ignore
as they wish.  From talking with the local folk here in Philly, my sense is
that while many of us do not have time to become out and out techies, many
do have the time and ability to tinker with things enough to adapt them to
our particular needs.  Offering more of a palette to choose from would be a
lovely thing, and for those who simply want to grab and run, probably almost
adequate.

The stylesheets used at the APS can be seen in action (or is that inaction)
at http://www.amphilsoc.org/library/eadfiles.htm.  Comments to me off-line,
if you wish, and stylesheets available for cannibalization by whomever,
wherever.  We're open source.

--Rob Cox
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Rob Cox
American Philosophical Society
105 South Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA   19106-3386
215.440.3409
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