Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations

What Does Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations Mean?

Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT), better known as XSL transformations, is a language for transforming Extensible Markup Languague (XML) documents into other structured documents. This is done by using a style sheet defining template rules for transforming a given input XML document into an appropriate output document with the help of an XSL processor.


XSLT transformations can take place either at the client or server side. The XSLT processing model consists of one or more source XML documents, one or more XSL style sheets, an XSL processor and one or more structured output documents.

Techopedia Explains Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations

XSLT is all about specifying how the XML content would generate a visual representation, describing details like style, pagination and layout on a presentation medium such as a display window, hand-held device screen, etc. The XSL style processor is the main component in XSLT involved in interpreting the style sheet and document and generating content as per the template rules.

The style sheet does not use a full-fledged programming syntax since it is complex to learn and interpret. Instead it defines rules known as template rules. Each of these rules specifies a pattern that must be found in the source document. Upon finding the pattern, the transformation is triggered to generate the output document. The pattern uses an expression language based on XPath to compare source nodes and style sheet templates.

Formatting semantics are included in the result tree, which enables formatting. Formatting semantics can be defined as a set of classes representing formatting objects. The result tree nodes are termed as formatting objects. The presentation rules are defined by classes of formatting objects and properties.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…