XSL Instructions



This document describes how to use the LingML tools. There are three or four steps. First, you encode your theoretical object in the appropriate XML format. Next, you check that you have done this correctly. (This is called "validation".) Third, you transform the XML stylesheet using the appropriate XSL stylesheet. Finally, there may be additional processing required depending on the type of output required.

These instructions are woefully incomplete. If you have any ideas about easier ways to do any of this, other useful (free) software, or any corrections, please let me know.

Editing your XML

XML files have a special .xml file extension, but they are really text files and can be edited with any text editor. For example, the notepad editor that comes with Microsoft Windows can be used without problem.

There are other editors that automatically indent and colorize and if you have access to one of these, this is better, e.g. gvim, vi, emacs, pico. (Some of these are only available with particular operating systems.)

There are also editors that are specifically designed for editing and manipulating XML. One very nice free one is Cooktop; another is Morphon.

It is extremely important that you do not use Microsoft Word or similar full-powered editor. These save files in a proprietary format that cannot be used for further processing.

Checking/validating your XML

Once you've put your theoretical device into XML, you need to check that you've done this correctly. This is done by running a validation program on your XML file with respect to the appropriate DTD file. You need not have the DTD file on your own computer. If you are connected to the internet, XML validation can be done with respect to a remote DTD file.

There are a number of tools that will enable you to check the well-formedness of your XML. The simplest one under Windows is to make use of Internet Explorer. Just opening you document in Explorer will test whether your brackets are properly paired and that everything in the document is actually XML.

Microsoft also supplies free tools which will enable you to use Explorer to validate. These are referred to as "Internet Explorer Tools for Validating XML and Viewing XSLT Output", and can be downloaded for free from Microsoft. The download is quite small and the installation quite straightforward. Once you have installed this, validation can be done in Internet Explorer simply by right-clicking and selecting the appropriate option from the pull-down menu.

The free Cooktop package cited above will also validate a document.

Running an XSL stylesheet

There are a number of ways to apply an XSL stylesheet. You need not put the XSL stylesheet on your own computer. If you are connected to the internet, the stylesheet can be applied remotely.

The easiest way is to specify the stylesheet in the XML document and then open the XSL document in Internet Explorer. Most of the XML samples include a default XSL stylesheet declaration that allows the XML file to be displayed as HTML.

The Cooktop program also allows you to apply any XSL stylesheet.

Finally, there are a number of command-line XSL processors. For example, the free java distribution includes the Xalan XSL processor. Once java is installed, it can be invoked like this: java org.apache.xalan.xslt.Process.

Further processing

Some of the demo applications involve applying XSL stylesheets to convert XML into some other input format for a different kind of processing. There are two examples of this in the projects so far: Graphviz and LaTeX. Once you've applied the XSL stylesheet to produce this new input form, you would then use the appropriate software from these packages to effect the final transformation to an appropriate output format.


This list is very incomplete. Suggestions of other (free) software are appreciated.

Mike Hammond