River and bridge and street and square|
Lay mine, as much at my beck and call,
Through the live translucent bath of air,
As the sights in a magic crystal ball.
Robert Browning, Old Pictures in Florence
This chapter is a practical complement for
Chapter 2, "The source definition." Having discussed the ins and
outs of building a comprehensive and useful source definition, we'll
now look at how these rules can be applied to real-world source XML
documents of a typical web site.
I cannot claim to cover everything: Your web site may well contain
unique elements that won't fit common schemes. Here, only the
most general and frequently used constructs are covered, and the approaches
described in this chapter may not be optimal for all
situations. Many examples are given, but rather than copy them
over, try to use the reasoning behind these examples to analyze your
own constraints and requirements.
The first part of the chapter deals with markup constructs commonly used
in page documents, including headings, paragraphs and
paragraph-like elements, links, images and other non-XML objects,
tables, and forms. Then we will analyze the master document
(3.9) to find out what data it
needs to store and what is the best XML representation for this
data. The last section (3.10) presents
complete summary examples of a page document, a master document, and a
Schematron schema to validate them.
In this and subsequent sections, we look at the informational
core of a web page, stored in its own source document (page
document). Peripheral components such as navigation, parameters
of the site environment, and metadata are stored in the master
document, the subject of 3.9.
Every XML document has a root element, and since we're talking
about page documents here, there's no reason not to call this
element page. Its attributes and children are the
natural place to store the page's metadata.
In addition to its primary content, each page document includes
certain metadata. Some of it may end up as a visible part of the web
page, some may be hidden in HTML metadata constructs (keywords and
descriptions in meta elements), some may be used during transformation but not included in the resulting HTML code, and some may not be used at all except for reference or source annotation purposes. Common examples of metadata include page creation date, change log, author(s) and editor(s), copyright and licensing information, and the language of the page.
Note that only information specific to this particular
page must be stored in it; if some metadata bits are shared by more
than one page, their proper place is in the master document
(3.9) and not in any of the page
The most important piece of metadata is the page's unique
identifier used to resolve internal links (3.5.3). However, we cannot store this identifier in the
page itself, or we'll have a catch-22 situation: We can get from the
id to the page location, but to obtain the
id we must access the page - that is, we must already
know its location. Because of this, the proper place for the
ids of all pages is in the site's master document.
Page coordinates.The same applies to the information on the position occupied by this page
in the site's hierarchy. As we'll see later (184.108.40.206), the branch of the site's tree that this
page is a leaf of is most naturally deduced from the site
directory in the master document. Duplicating this information in
the page document itself is unnecessary and prone to errors.
Everything else.Any other page metadata is normally stored in the page
document. Simple values can be stored in attributes of the page's
root element. More complex constructs that require their own
elements can be placed either directly under the root or inside an
umbrella parent element (e.g., metadata) that is a child
of the root element.
RDF (1.1.5), besides being the
cornerstone of the Semantic Web, can be used as a powerful tool for
representing metadata in the traditional Web. It allows you to use
standardized descriptors for common values such as author and date,
but you can just as well define your own semantics for your
You'll likely need some intermediate structural layers between
the root element, page, and text markup constructs such
as paragraphs and headings.
Sections or blocks?The traditional document hierarchy - sections, subsections,
subsubsections, and so on - is not often seen on the Web. Instead,
information is more commonly broken into relatively small
blocks with few or no hierarchical relations between them. Different sites may call these blocks "stories," "blurbs," "columns," "modules," "writeups," and myriad other names.
Among these names, one which appears to be the most intuitive is
the one you should use for your block construct's element type
name. Contentwise, a block is a unit with mostly fixed structure
that may include both obligatory (e.g., heading and body) and
optional (e.g., icon, heading links, author byline) components
in both parallel and sequential (2.3.7) arrangements. Here's an example:
<block id="unique" icon="block_icon" type="story">
<head link="address">Block heading</head>
<subhead>Optional block subheading</subhead>
<p>And here goes a paragraph of text.</p>
<p>Possibly one more paragraph.</p>
<author>An optional author byline</author>
Block types. It is likely that you will have more than one type of block construct - for example, front page news blocks, subpage body blocks, and ad blocks. In the simplest case, everything on the page can be treated as one big block, so the page's root element can be considered the root element of a block.
Different types of blocks will likely have many common structural
features - in part because they all belong to one site with its
common information architecture and visual design. Only if different
types of blocks have clearly distinct structures can you use
different element types for them; otherwise it is best to use the
same generic element type (e.g., block) with different
values of the type attribute. This provides two major benefits:
Your validation code will be simpler to write and
Management of orthogonal content (220.127.116.11)
will be much easier to implement - for example, you may be able to
reuse blocks from regular pages as orthogonals on other
pages, or turn documents storing orthogonal content into regular
In general, analogous but different structures should only differ
by a minimum number of obvious features; avoid random, meaningless
Brief highlighted text fragments that preface or summarize
longer pieces of text are very common on web pages. A heading may
apply to the entire page, a section within the page, or even a single
sentence or link - but it must apply to something, for a heading
only exists as a member of a "head and body" pair.
Look up the number.
HTML has long used the h1 to h6
element types for six levels of headings. You can borrow these
names, or you can make them less cryptic by using
head1, head2, and so on. In any case,
this approach only works if you really need several
levels of headings and if these levels are free of any additional
semantics - that is, if you can more or less freely move a branch of
your headings tree upward or downward in the hierarchy.
If this is not true - for example, if your third-level headings
are reserved specifically for sidebars that cannot be promoted to
second-level sections - then the number-based naming scheme is not a
good idea at all. Imagine that one day you need to add sections
inside a sidebar - this will look ugly if your sidebar
headings are marked up, say, as h4, while sections are
Ask my parent who I am.
It is vastly more convenient to use some
descriptive names, such as chapter-head,
section-head, or sidebar-head. An even
better approach is to take advantage of the "head and body" duality
mentioned above. If you've defined different element types for the
complete structural units (section,
sidebar, etc.), then the single head
element type can be used for headings at any level:
<head>This is a section heading</head>
<head>And this is a subsection heading</head>
This scheme is intuitive, easy to remember, and therefore easy to
use. Even though there is only one heading element type, XSLT or
Schematron will have no problem determining the role of each
particular heading by checking its parent element. At the same time,
implementing processing that is common to all headings is very straightforward with this approach.
implements a similar scheme except that its element type for a
heading, h, is always a child of a section
(although sections can nest). This is understandable -
XHTML cannot realistically cover all possible kinds of structural
units that might require headings. On the other hand, this brings us
back to an "anonymous" naming scheme that is only slightly better
than the old h1...h6: Now you can easily move sections
around with their headings, but still no useful semantics is
attached to each heading. You can, however, use the CSS
class attribute to designate exactly what kind of a heading or section this is.
The next question is, what is the auxiliary information to be
stored with your headings?2 In most
cases, the plain text of the heading itself is sufficient,
but there are exceptions. For example, a heading usually has a
unique (either within the page or, more usefully, within the entire
site) id attribute used in cross-references or
hyperlinks to this section from elsewhere.
In fact, a typical reference is supposed to refer to the section
(or other structural unit) to which the heading belongs, not to the
heading itself. Still, most authors prefer to use headings for
linking, partially due to the HTML inertia (there are no
sections in today's HTML) and partially because this
allows them to more easily reuse the text of the heading in the
textual part of the link.
For example, if your heading is marked up as
and you have a reference to it from somewhere, written as
...see <link to="attrib"/> for more on this.
this can be easily transformed into
...see 2.1, "Attributes" for more on this.
in plain text, or to
...see <a href="#attrib">2.1, Attributes</a> for more on this.
in HTML (here, "2.1" comes from an automatic count of preceding
and ancestor sections). On the other hand, given that XSLT can
easily traverse from a heading element to its parent, there's no
real reason to use headings for linking in XSLT-based projects. The
same link rendering could just as well be obtained from
which looks less tautological and better reflects the fact that
both the head and the id are
properties of the section.
If necessary for your site's design, you may need to store a
reference to a graphic file for each heading (see 3.6 for a discussion of image references), but only if
the correspondence between headings and images is not automatic. The
image may be used, for example, as a background or an icon-like
visual alongside the heading.
The question of what children to allow within headings boils down
to the question of how far beyond plain text you are willing to
go. Would you need textual emphasis within headings? What about
links? The laziest approach is to allow everything that is allowed
within a paragraph of text - and it will work fine in most
cases. Only if you think you may encounter problems with complex
markup in headings and want to guard against them, might a different
content model for headings be necessary.
Depending on your requirements, other children may be
necessary for heading elements. For example, you may want to store
the same heading in two or more languages, with the stylesheet
selecting one of the languages for presentation depending on a
global language parameter (see also 2.3.5).
You may also want to keep both full and abridged versions of a
heading. For example, newspapers often use a specific abbreviated
English syntax for their headlines (as in U.S. Patriot Act
attacked as threat to freedom), but for the purposes of
automatic indexing and natural language processing, the fully
grammatical version of the same heading might be required (The
U.S. Patriot Act was attacked as a threat to freedom).
A special kind of a heading specific to HTML documents is the
title of a page, normally displayed in the title bar of
a web browser window as well as in bookmarks or search results
listing this page. Even though, as a general rule, your target
vocabulary must not influence your semantic source vocabulary, you
should plan ahead as to what source element(s) will be transformed
into the web page title.
If each of your pages has a visible on-page heading that applies
to the entire page, it is natural to duplicate it as a web page
title. Otherwise, it is always a good idea to provide a heading for
any sufficiently large information unit. Even if in your
target rendition this heading will only be used for a peripheral
element such as page title or not used at all, the very act of
christening a piece of data disciplines your thinking and serves as
an additional checkpoint to ensure the consistency of your source's
information architecture. Besides, the title may
turn out to be more important for other renditions of the same source
A web page title is often used for orientation within the site. A
sequence of parent sections' headings, culminating in the name of
the entire site, may be appended or prepended to the current page's
title (e.g., "Foobar Corporation - Products - Foobar Plus"). Such a
hierarchical title may be informative and useful, especially with
deep site trees (even if the same information is duplicated on the
page itself). Of course, it is the stylesheet that builds such a
compound title, while the XML source of each page only provides that
page's unique part of the title.
A paragraph is a sequence of sentences that traditionally represents
a complete, single thought. Today, however, paragraphs are often
used for structuring the text flow visually, rather than for organizing the
flow of ideas within it. Online, paragraphs tend to be smaller than in
print, and other means of text organization (such as blocks,
3.1.2) may make traditional paragraphs less
Still, whenever you have a container for more than just a small
bit of text, your schema should permit inserting one or more
intermediate paragraph elements between this container and its
text. In most cases, this intermediate level may be optional; for
example, your block elements could be allowed to contain either
direct text content (for short fragments less than a paragraph) or a
sequence of paragraph elements (for longer pieces of text). This
approach adds a degree of laxity to your schema but is very
convenient in daily markup practice.
As for the element type name, there is no reason not to use
HTML's p, although para would be more
appropriate for users who might find p too cryptic.
Lists are a special construct that is closely related to
paragraphs. Two common types of lists offered by HTML are unordered
(bulleted) and ordered (numbered), differing in how the items in the
list are adorned. For our XML markup, we could borrow
HTML's model, with a parent element (e.g., ordered-list)
enveloping the entire list and children elements
(e.g., item) marking up individual items.
The only possible ambiguity with regard to list markup is how to
correlate list items with paragraphs. Often, each list item is a
paragraph, so you may be tempted to consider paragraph elements
redundant and disallow them from list markup completely. However, as
soon as you run into an item of two or more paragraphs, you may
regret this decision. I recommend using the convention discussed
in the last section: Allow both paragraphs and direct text
content within list item elements.
In fact, this is what is implemented by HTML 4; its
li element can contain both inline and block
content (i.e., both text children and paragraph elements,
Most links refer to entire web pages, but sometimes you need to
pinpoint a particular location within a page. In HTML, you can make
a link target from as small a piece of text as you like, down to a
single sentence or word (by enclosing it in an a
element with the name attribute).3 In most graphic browsers, however, the only visible result of jumping to an in-page link is the page being scrolled down so that the linked point is at the top edge of the window.
This means that - unless your linked sentence happens to start at
the beginning of a screen line - the visible portion of the newly
loaded page starts in mid-sentence. This result is quite confusing
and makes it nearly impossible to guess what exactly the link
referred to. For this reason alone, it is advisable to only allow
anchoring links to block-level elements, including paragraphs.
With XML, it is easy to enforce that rule because you most likely
won't have any target enveloping element (like a in
HTML). What you need instead is an attribute, only applicable to
block-level elements, that turns its element into a link target. It
often makes sense to reuse the almost-standard id
attribute for this purpose (in addition to its numerous other uses);
it won't do any harm if some of the elements with ids
will create HTML link targets but will never be linked to.
Sometimes, you'll need to present an object that breaks the paragraph flow, but doesn't necessarily start a new paragraph. Often, this is a mathematical formula or a programming code fragment that must start on a new line.
Such a piece of displayed material is a block-level
element from an HTML perspective; semantically, however, it is often an
inseparable part of an adjacent paragraph containing the
introductory or explanatory text for this displayed
item. Therefore, it makes sense to allow the displayed material
elements to be used only as children of paragraph elements.
The "HT" in HTML stands for HyperText, and the early
historical Web was very much textual. Despite all the graphic and
multimedia advances of recent years, this textual foundation has not
eroded. The advance of XML has, if anything, only strengthened
Any text markup language must provide a sufficient inventory of markup constructs for in-flow text fragments that for some reason must be differentiated from their context. Examples of such fragments include emphasized words or phrases, names or identifiers, quotes, and foreign language citations.
Block and inline elements.
HTML (as well as other presentation-oriented vocabularies, for
instance XSL-FO) differentiates between block-level and
inline-level objects. This distinction has to do mostly with
visual formatting, as block-level elements are supposed to be
stacked vertically, while inline elements are part of the horizontal
flow of text.4 Therefore, it is not really relevant for your semantic XML markup, which must reflect content structure, not formatting. Still, since HTML is your primary target format, the block/inline distinction may sometimes have repercussions for your source definition.
Thus, it may be difficult to handle situations where a
source element that normally transforms into an inline-level target
element has to apply to a larger fragment of a document (3.4.3). From the XSLT viewpoint (4.5.1), block-level elements are more often
generated by pull-style trunk templates, while inline-level elements are
the exclusive domain of push-style branch templates.
is an established standard dating from 1991 that is used mostly for
technical books and documentation. It may well be the most widely
used XML vocabulary after XHTML; when somebody tells you, "My
documents are in XML," chances are it's actually
DocBook. Software support for this vocabulary is also quite good.
DocBook is vast but not too deep, so it is simple to learn despite
its large number of element types (epigraphs, bibliographies, programming
code, glossaries, and so on). If you don't understand what a
particular element type is supposed to do, probably you don't need it
(yet). For those constructs you do need, however, DocBook may be a
rich source of text markup and structuring wisdom.
TEI6 (Text Encoding Initiative)
is an older and bigger beast, developed for markup of all kinds of
scientific and humanities texts. Compared to DocBook, it is focused
more on low-level text markup than on high-level book
structures. The TEI DTD offers many modules that cover everything
from verse to graph theory, so it is highly recommended if you
need to mark up specialized texts. The TEI
Guidelines7 is a very
comprehensive and detailed guidebook explaining the use of the TEI
DTD as well as many finer points of marking up complex text
Your source XML must be semantic; that is, it must reflect the
meaning of text-level constructs, not their presentation. The
em and i element types, both present in HTML,
provide a canonic illustration of this principle. While an
i element dictates using an italic face in visual
media, an em only designates an emphasis, which
is a semantic concept rendered differently in different media. For
example, a fragment of text inside em can be set in italic in a graphic browser, but it can also be highlighted in a text-mode browser or read aloud emphatically by a speech browser.
Modern HTML deprecates i and other
presentation-oriented element types; instead, you are supposed to use
appropriate semantic element types such as em, possibly in
combination with CSS. In your XML source, however, deprecating
anything is not an option - you have to make sure that with your
schema, no presentation-oriented markup is possible at
all. Formatting hints (3.6.2) can only be used in your XML when absolutely unavoidable.
The same visible formatting may result from different source
markup. For example, you may use the same italic font face for both
emphasis and citations, but they must be marked up differently in
your source. What only a human reader can distinguish in the
formatted result should, ideally, be automatically distinguishable
in the source.
In general, semantic markup in the source should be richer
and more detailed than the resulting HTML markup after
transformation. For example, it is often a good idea to use special
element types to mark up all dates, person names, or company names
in your source, even though in the resulting web pages they are not
formatted in any special way.
Why mark up what you don't need right here and now? Because your XML source is more than just an undeveloped (as in "undeveloped film") version of the web site. Rather, it is the start of a project that will keep growing and changing, sprouting new connections and renditions over time. For example, you may want to reuse your web site material in PDF brochures, interactive CDs, archival and search applications, and more.
This means that your XML source must be able to serve as the
semantic foundation not only for your current site but also for
everything it can potentially become. You may not need any extra
markup right now, but it may come in very handy when you extend your
site or reuse the source documents for anything beyond the web site
Imagine that one day you need to convert all dates on your site
from one format to another (e.g., from MM/DD/YY to
DD/MM/YY). Dealing with dates scattered in the text
is so much easier if all of them are marked up consistently -
... which happened on
instead of simply
... which happened on 09/04/2003.
With rich markup, you can change dates' rendition (e.g., reorder
date components or use a different separator character) without
touching the source at all, simply by modifying the stylesheet.
On another occasion, you may decide to paint all company names
(or only your own company's name) green on your web pages. Or, you
may find it a good idea to automatically compile an index of all
persons' names mentioned on your site. All of these tasks are only
possible if your source XML has these elements
consistently and unambiguously marked up.
The need for rich text markup obviously depends on the quality,
value, and planned longevity of your material. You don't need rich
markup for short-lived stuff, but if you want your material to
remain useful in the long term, you should always try to think in
terms of "what markup is perfect for this content" rather than "what
markup is sufficient for the task at hand." Examples of long-lived or
otherwise valuable content include standards, specifications,
historical texts, etc.
As an example (and a good source of ideas), consider
NITF8 (News Industry Text Format),
which is a standard vocabulary for rich markup of news
stories. Only a necessary minimum of NITF markup may be used in a
story that goes directly to press; however, for exchange,
syndication, or archival use, a complete enriched NITF markup is
required. A properly prepared NITF news story uses rich markup to
answer questions such as who the story is about,
when and where the described event occurred, and even
why it is considered newsworthy by the story author.
The text elements we've discussed in this section
would be termed inline in HTML, meaning they are only allowed
within block elements such as paragraphs. However, this limitation
does not always make sense. For example, a rich markup
element such as emphasis may need to be applied to more than one complete
Usually, this is an indication that these paragraphs constitute
some logical entity, such as a quotation, which (rather than the
emphasis itself) you need to mark up. However, there may be
situations where no such element exists, but inline text markup still
has to spread across one or more block elements. What are we to do in
Inserting a separate inline markup element within each
paragraph is the least elegant solution:
<p><em>This is the first paragraph using emphasis throughout.</em></p>
<p><em>And this is the second emphasized paragraph.</em></p>
This leads to unnecessary duplication of markup, poor
maintainability, and just plain ugliness. This is the only option,
however, if your emphasis spans one paragraph and a
The simplest approach is to just do away with the inline/block
distinction and allow any text markup to be applied at any level of
the hierarchy, both below and above the paragraph level. This will
allow you to enclose all affected paragraphs into a common parent
element specifying emphasis:
<p>This is the first paragraph using emphasis throughout.</p>
<p>And this is the second emphasized paragraph. Note that we can use
This might make sense, especially in contexts where you want to
allow both paragraphs and short non-paragraph text fragments
(3.3). The problem with this approach is that it blurs your hierarchy of element types, thereby making your documents harder to maintain and more prone to errors.
It might be argued, on the other hand, that the emphasis spanning
one or more paragraphs is semantically different from the emphasis that
spans one or more words. Therefore, they could use different
<p>This is the first paragraph using emphasis throughout.</p>
<p>And this is the second emphasized paragraph. Note that we can use
<em>nested emphasis</em>, but this time it is a different element
type for the inline level.</p>
If the paragraph-level emphasis is semantically connected with
the paragraph element, you can instead add an attribute to those
paragraphs that fall within its scope:
<p type="emphasis">This is the first paragraph using emphasis
<p type="emphasis">And this is the second emphasized paragraph.
Again, <em>nested emphasis</em> is possible.</p>
Among these options, there is perhaps no single winner suitable
for all situations. Your choice will depend on the semantics of
the element in question, the frequency of its use at inline and
block levels, and the possible connections between its
semantics and that of the standard block-level element
Another issue with text markup is whether nesting elements of one
type is to be allowed. Presentation-oriented markup never uses, for
instance, i within
i - but for semantic markup, a similar
structure may be meaningful. Thus, emphasis within emphasis or a
quote within a quote are both perfectly valid semantically, even though in an HTML rendition, nesting of the corresponding formatting elements may have no visible effect.
Therefore, to properly transform nested semantic markup, you must
use different formatting depending on the nesting level of the
semantic element. For example, if you use italic face for emphasis,
nested emphasis can be rendered either as regular face ("toggle"
approach, where you switch between regular and italic faces for each
new nesting level) or as bold italic face ("additive" approach, in
which the italic rendition of the parent is augmented by the bold
formatting of the child).
A hyperlink is a very rich concept, even though its
implementation in HTML is rather primitive. Basically, an HTML link
consists of two parts: the address that tells the browser where to
go and the link element itself that (with its attributes and
children) defines the link's presentation and behavior. However, in
HTML, all possible address types are limited to a single syntax
(URI), and all possible link types are served by one element type
(a) with a limited set of attributes. Let's see how we can improve this scheme.
Note that this section only covers inline links that are
part of the body of a page and thus need to be specified in the
page's XML source. Navigational links, created by the
stylesheet based on the master document data, are discussed in
When deciding how to cast your linking semantics into XML
constructs, it is natural to reuse the HTML approach with a link
consisting of an element (signaling the link) and its attributes
(providing the address and other link properties). For example, you
This was <link address="address">reviewed</link> elsewhere.
However, this only looks good when you're linking text fragments within a text flow. As soon as you have a separate element representing some object that may have a link property (among others), it is much more convenient to designate the link by an extra attribute of that element rather than a wrapper element. For example, it is easier to create a linked image like this:
<image src="button" link="address"/>
compared to the HTML-inspired approach:
<link address="address"><image src="button"/></link>
Not only the address but other properties of a link as well (such as
its title, behavior, or classification) might similarly
attach as attributes to an element that represents a nontextual link.
So, we see that it is natural to express linking semantics via a
set of attributes that may apply to many different elements (or even
to any element at all) instead of an element type with its own fixed
attributes. This is because a link is most often an attribute of
some object rather than an object in itself. This approach was
implemented in W3C's XLink
standard,9 and you may
consider incorporating XLink into your source definition for link
markup (however, please read the rest of 3.5 for other possible link properties, not all of which are supported by XLink).
For in-flow textual links, you still need a generic
linking element type (such as link in the example above) that
only serves as a markup container for the same set of linking
attributes. Most schema languages have no problem defining a separate
set of attributes that can be used in different element types.
Along with the href attribute with the link's URI,
an a element in HTML may provide a target
attribute for specifying the target window or frame for the linked
program various aspects of the link's behavior (e.g., actions
performed when the link is activated), your
source XML may also need to provide link properties
other than the address.
This does not mean, of course, that you'll have to embed
need to do first is develop a classification of all possible
types of link attributes or behaviors, without detailing their
implementation. As soon as you have such a classification, it's easy
to coin an appropriate attribute and define the vocabulary of
allowed values for it.
Categorizing links.For example, analysis may reveal that your links fall into one of
the following categories:
internal links (links to other pages within the site);
external links (links to other sites);
dictionary links (links to a script on an online dictionary site
providing definitions for linked words); and
thumbnail links (thumbnails linked to pop-up windows
with larger versions of images or pages).
Both thumbnail links and dictionary links may be either internal
or external. However, they need to be classified separately because
of their special role on the pages, resulting in different
formatting and behavior. On the other hand, you may not be planning
any formatting or behavior differences between internal and external
links, but separating them into different types is still a good idea
because it is a natural classification and because this lets you make
your address abbreviations (discussed in 3.5.3) more logical.
To differentiate these link types, we could add a classifier
attribute, e.g. linktype, specifying the type of the link:
...available on the <link linktype="external"
link="www.kirsanov.com/te/">original site</link> and
<link linktype="internal" link="mirror/te">mirrored here</link>.
This approach works both with standalone link
elements and with any other elements that may need to use these
linking attributes (e.g., image). Note that we used
linktype rather than type and
link rather than address for the attribute
names so that the common prefix, link, will help
you keep track of these attributes as a group without the risk of
confusing them with their parent elements' native attributes. You
can also separate all linking attributes into a namespace of their own,
but this is not really necessary unless you plan to use them with
different document vocabularies.
It's also advisable to make all linking attributes but the
address (i.e., link) optional and provide sensible
default values. For example, you can mandate that the missing
linktype attribute in a linked element implies that the
link is internal.
Classifier element types.
For in-flow links, instead of (or, better, in addition to) the bulky
classifier attribute, a separate element type for each link type is
more convenient. As these element types will be used quite
often, each should have a short but clear name:
...available on the <ext link="www.kirsanov.com/te/">original
site</ext> and <int link="mirror/te">mirrored here</int>.
Separate element types have the additional advantage of being easier to validate with grammar-based schema languages like DTD or XML Schema.
Advanced link types.
Other link types may have their own sets of required and optional
attributes and may perform other functions, besides creating a
link. For instance, dictionary links from the above classification
are likely to be used only within text flow, so we can introduce a
special element type for them and declare that whenever the address
attribute is missing, the element's content is taken as the
(abbreviated, 3.5.3) address:
...was going to <def>disembogue</def> profusely.
...at which point it <def word="disembogue">disembogued</def> itself...
Here, two occurrences of the obscure word disembogue are
linked to a dictionary site, so that a pop-up window or floating
tooltip with the word's definition could be displayed when the link
is activated in some way (e.g., clicked or hovered over). You don't
need to specify the dictionary site to use, or the complete URL for
the pop-up; all this is taken care of by the stylesheet. The only
thing you may need in the source is the word attribute
that optionally provides the base form of the linked word or phrase;
if it is absent, the contents of the def element are
For generality, this special kind of link can also be given by a
link element with linktype="dictionary"
and the link attribute playing the role of word.
Similarly, a thumbnail link could be created by a
thumb element with a single attribute
(e.g., image). This attribute would provide the identifier of the
corresponding image, with the stylesheet doing all the rest: inserting
and formatting the thumbnail, creating a display page with the full-size
version of the image, and linking it to the thumbnail. The stylesheet
can even automatically create the thumbnail from a full-size image
When creating a link, we usually want to specify a certain
piece of content that the link will point to. What a URL
allows us to specify, however, most often is a file that can
be moved, renamed, or deleted even if the content we are interested
in is still out there somewhere. Moreover, a URL includes a lot of
technical information (protocol, file extension) that is not
relevant for our purpose of establishing a content-level link.
All this invites the idea of using abbreviated addresses
that would hide the underlying technical complexity of URLs and
provide an abstraction layer protecting our semantic XML from URL
changes. For each address, we will create an identifier to be used
in the XML source; at transformation time, the stylesheet will
resolve this identifier into the actual URL to be put into the
corresponding HTML link element.
Example: RFC links.
Suppose you often need to link to enumerated documents such as
RFCs.10 Such links could use a special value of the link
classifier attribute and/or an element type of their own. However,
to make them even more convenient, it is natural to use
only the RFC number as an abbreviation for the complete URI:
...as per <rfc num="1489"/>.
Or, the same could be spelled out in a generic fashion:
...as per <link linktype="rfc" link="1489"/>.
This latter variant uses generic linking attributes that can be
applied to different elements to make links out of the corresponding
objects, whereas the num attribute is only recognized
in an rfc element.
The XSLT stylesheet will have to recognize this type of link,
possibly apply some special formatting to it, and most importantly
resolve (unabbreviate) the abbreviated address. In this
example, unabbreviation would supply the complete URL of the
referenced document for the HTML link:
<a href="ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc1489.txt">RFC 1489</a>.
You could also allow an rfc element to enclose character content:
...which was <rfc num="1489">defined</rfc> in 1993.
which would give the following in HTML:
Mnemonic addressing.Abbreviated addresses in your source XML must be unique only
within your site, as opposed to URLs that are globally unique. This
means you can make them easier to remember and more meaningful (to
you) than are URLs. The abbreviated addresses are also completely
devoid of irrelevant technical details and can be arbitrarily long
(i.e., detailed and readable) or arbitrarily short (i.e., quick to
type and quick to read).
You can use as many independent abbreviation schemes as
necessary. Each more or less complete and logical group of addresses
can be served by its own abbreviation algorithm (and the
corresponding resolver in the stylesheet). For example, links to an
online dictionary or search engine might be abbreviated to just the
word you want to look up; links to W3C standards can be represented
by their unique identifiers as used by the W3C site
(e.g., xslt20 for XSLT 2.0, which unabbreviates into
http://www.w3.org/TR/xslt20/). Any address domain whose URLs can be "losslessly compressed" into a shorter or easier-to-remember form is ripe for abbreviation.
With multiple abbreviation schemes, the stylesheet must be able
to know which one to use for each link. This is where link types
(3.5.2) are useful, distinguished by a
classifier attribute value (<link linktype="rfc"
...>) or the element type (<rfc
...>) used for each link. It is natural to define
abbreviation schemes on a per-link-type basis, or even to define
link types based on the abbreviation schemes they are using.
Along with resolving the address, your stylesheet can perform other
processing tasks, such as retrieving the title of the referenced RFC
to be displayed in the link's floating tooltip. A Schematron schema
for your source definition, in addition to performing link syntax
validation, can also check for broken links (18.104.22.168). Another important advantage is that you
can easily change all your RFC links from one RFC repository to
another simply by editing the stylesheet.
To expand the abbreviated addresses, your stylesheet may use any
sources of information, such as local or remote database queries or
even web search. It's easiest, however, to create simple algorithmic
abbreviations that map to the corresponding URLs through some
calculations or string manipulations.
Thus, for external links, the most obvious and perhaps the only
sensible abbreviation is dropping the protocol specification
(usually http://) from the URLs. Even this simple provision can
make address input somewhat easier by allowing you to type
www.kirsanov.com instead of
Note, however, that in this case the stylesheet must be able to
recognize the protocol part of an address and only add
http:// if it is missing. Addresses that already contain
a protocol specification (be it http://,
https://, or ftp://) must not be modified
in any way.
An address abbreviation may contain more than one component. This is
often necessary to link to scripts (as opposed to static pages) that
require a number of parameters in the request URI. Some of these
parameters (e.g., the partner's ID or formatting options) are static
and can therefore be filled in by the stylesheet, but the key information
pointers (e.g., the date and the number of the article within that
date) must be present in the source of the linking page. Here's an
example of a link with a multicomponent abbreviated address:
num="6490">reported</foonews> by FooBarNews...
which could be expanded into the HTML link:
One highly recommended abbreviation scheme that makes sense for
almost any site is using page identifiers, defined in the master
document, instead of pathnames11 for internal links. This will make your site's
structure much more flexible because you will be able to rename a page or
move it around without changing all the other pages that link to
Linking a foobar.
For example, suppose you have a page on your site describing a
product called Foobar Plus. You don't want to spell out the complete
pathname each time you link to that page, as it may be
quite long (e.g., /products/personal/foobar_plus). Much
more convenient would be using that page's unique (within your
site) and easy-to-remember identifier. Since you don't, in all
probability, have another Foobar Plus on your web site, it is natural
to use an abbreviated name of the product as the identifier:
Check out our new <int link="fb+">Foobar Plus</int>!
The correspondence between web pages and their identifiers
is to be set in the master document (22.214.171.124). Now it
doesn't matter if your Foobar Plus page is moved, say, from
/products/corporate/foobarplus. All you need to do is
change the reference in the master document and retransform all site
To make life even easier for site maintainers, you can allow them
to use any of a number of aliases referring to the same
page. For example, the Foobar Plus page might just as well be linked
to as fb+, foobar+, or
foobar-plus. All you need to do is register all such aliases
in the master document (see Example 3.2).
In multilingual sites, a special kind of link that must be
present on every page is the link(s) to the other language
version(s) of the same page. The absolute minimum of
information needed to construct such a link is, obviously, the
identifier of the language we are linking to. Thus, if we write on
the Foobar Plus page
<lang link="de">This page in German</lang>
then the stylesheet will use the current page's pathname to
construct the proper HTML link - for example,
page in German</a>
page in German</a>
or any other variant, depending on your web site setup. Once again, the correspondence between languages and link URIs is deduced from the master document's data.
The majority of static images, Java applets, and Flash animations
on web pages are not independent objects. Most often, they are
components of higher-level content constructs. An image may be a
visual accompanying a section heading, a background of a table or
the entire page, or a navigation button that is part of a larger
In all these cases, your source XML will not contain any image references at all: It is the stylesheet's responsibility to know what images to use with what content structures, where to take these images, and how to format them. Much less frequently, usually within text flow, you might need to display an image for its own sake - such as a photo, a technical illustration, or a map. It's only these standalone objects that you'll have to specify explicitly in the semantic XML source of a page.
This section covers both static images and various embedded objects such as Java applets, ActiveX controls, and Flash animations. All of these are similar from the viewpoint of XML source markup; below we talk mostly about images, but you should keep in mind that the same applies to most non-HTML external objects used on web pages.
Element type names.
The name of the element type for including standalone images in your
documents may be either generic (e.g., image) or
specific (e.g., map or portrait). If you're
only planning to use a few well-defined types of images in a few
well-defined situations, you can use narrow and descriptive names
for each type. Otherwise (or if you do not yet have any specific
plans for the use of images at all), a generic image
element would be just fine.
Images as attributes.
An image object may be quite complex, with additional components,
such as a photo caption or credit, stored in attributes or child
elements. However, quite often all you need to specify is a source
location or an identifier for an image that is an attribute of some other object
rather than a standalone object in its own right. For the image
types that can be used this way, you can use an attribute of the
same name as the standalone image's element type. For example, if
your sections may feature a photo next to the section's
heading, it is more convenient to write
than to write
even though your stylesheet may be programmed to create identical
formatting for these two inputs.
Just as a link's main attribute is the destination address, an
image element must, before all, specify the location of the image
resource. And, just as we used abbreviated addresses in links, it is
natural to use mnemonic identifiers instead of complete image locations.
For example, by writing
you make your XML source more readable, easier to edit manually,
and less prone to errors.
In the simplest case, an abbreviated image reference can be made
from its filename by removing the path and extension (which is
supposed to remain constant for all images). In more complex cases,
an abbreviation might be composed of several parts expressed as
attributes, such as a date or a classifier. Finally, your master
document could simply store a list of all image locations associated
with arbitrary identifiers and possibly aliases (compare 3.9.1); in this case, all image references in your source will be completely independent of the corresponding locations or other image properties.
Along with stripping directory and extension, filename-based
abbreviations can be made even more convenient by programming the
stylesheet to perform case folding (converting everything to lower-
or uppercase) and to remove all whitespace and
punctuation. With these provisions, to reference
img/maps/nymap.png in the above example, we could use
any of nymap, ny map,
N.Y. Map, and so on.
The goal of using abbreviations is to have your image references
named intuitively and consistently and to provide just enough
information in XML for the stylesheet to be able to reconstruct the complete pathname or URI.
Standalone images may be particularly difficult to separate into
independent aspects of content and formatting. The idea of
specifying an image identifier and possibly its role in the XML
source and then letting the stylesheet figure out all the formatting
parameters is attractive, but the reality may be not so
neat. Sometimes, you'll have no choice but to add ugly formatting
clues to the XML source to get the correct rendition.
An example is a layout where several images are placed on a
page, interspersed with text, and aligned alternately against the left
or right margin. It is natural to have the stylesheet do the
alternating alignment so that only the image identifiers need to be
supplied in the source. However, sometimes you may want to
force a particular image to a particular margin in the middle of a
page. Adding align="right" to your XML source is
hardly semantic but may be unavoidable if, for example, a left-aligned
image visually conflicts with a nearby left-aligned heading.
It is much easier to prevent a disease than to cure it. Thus,
it is preferable to design your page layout in such a way that it can
be created strictly automatically based on nothing but the semantic XML
source. Avoid situations where only manual interaction can produce
For example, if you plan to use alternating alignment of images,
you could either use centered headings (which will not conflict with
either image alignment) or mandate that any image be at least
one paragraph away from the nearest heading (this restriction is
easy to enforce automatically using Schematron).
However, there are situations where adding manual formatting
hints to your XML source cannot be avoided. This may happen not only
with images, although they are a frequent source of problems. It is
advisable to use a separate namespace for all hints that pertain to
the same output format (e.g., HTML):
<image src="solid wood table" forhtml:align="right"/>
Here, a hint is added to the p element specifying that
this paragraph must start a new column in a multicolumn layout
(assuming the stylesheet cannot figure this out automatically). Another
hint floats an image within that paragraph to the right margin.
Now, if you want to render the same XML source into a different
format, such as PDF, the new stylesheet will have no problems ignoring
anything from the "for HTML" namespace. It is also very easy to
strip all HTML formatting hints to produce a purely semantic version
of the source. You can store several sets of formatting hints in the
same source documents, each in its own namespace, and have the
stylesheet select the set corresponding to the current output
format (such as "HTML with columns," "HTML without columns,"
"printable HTML," "PDF," etc.).
HTML documents often use the height and
width attributes in img elements as
spatial hints to speed up rendering of the page in a browser. You
don't need to supply these values in XML; a stylesheet can find
out the dimensions of all referenced images itself (5.5.1).
Besides the location (full or abbreviated) and possibly formatting hints, an
image element may contain various other information.
The XHTML specification requires that each image be provided with
a piece of text describing what the image is. Traditionally, the
alt attribute of an img element has been
used for short descriptions, but in HTML 4.01 and XHTML the
longdesc ("long description") attribute was added to
complement alt. Normally, an image description should contain:
nothing (empty string) for purely decorative images (such as
components of frames, backgrounds, and separators);
the text visible on the image for images that display text
(thus, the alt of a graphic button must contain exactly the button's label and nothing else);
a short description of the image's role or content for
meaningful images (e.g., John's photo).
It's only in the last of the above cases that the image
description may need to be supplied in the XML source, preferably in
the content of an image element (2.3.3). However, if your abbreviated image
identifiers are sufficiently readable most of the time, you can save
some typing and just reuse these unresolved identifiers (such as
NY map) for alt values.
Often, a standalone image must be accompanied by a visible
descriptive piece of text (as opposed to alt
descriptions that are normally not shown by graphic browsers). This
may be a caption, a photo credit, a copyright notice, or anything
else that semantically belongs to this image.
Since this content may need further inline markup, it is
better to store it in children of your image element rather than in
attributes (2.3.3). The formatting
of a caption or caption-like element is determined by the type of
the parent image element, which in turn is evident either from its
element type name or from the value of a classifier attribute. For
example, a photo could be marked up as follows:
<caption>A rare sight.</caption>
Upon encountering a photo element, the stylesheet
would expect to format its caption child element as a photo
caption and the credit child element, if present, as
credit (e.g., separately from the caption, in a smaller font size, and
with "Photo by" prepended to the credit text).
A simple linked image can be created by adding linking attributes
(3.5.1) to the image
element. Sometimes, however, you may need to create an imagemap
where different regions of the image are linked to different
The quick-and-dirty approach.
It is natural to reuse the generic link element type for specifying
multiple links inside an imagemap, by placing link elements in the
image and adding coordinate attributes to define the linked area:
<image src="chart 3">
<link link="address1" shape="rect" x1="0" y1="0" x2="100" y2="20"/>
<link link="address2" shape="circle" x="50" y="50" radius="5"/>
In HTML, all coordinates for an imagemap area are cramped into one
comma-separated attribute value string. You don't need to reproduce
that in your XML - instead, you can specify one value
per attribute and use descriptive attribute names. It's a good idea to
use your schema to check that the set of coordinate attributes in
each link element corresponds to the value of
The thoroughly semantic approach.The syntax shown above may work for an occasional imagemap, but it is still not
semantic enough and needs to be improved if you routinely use imagemaps (or other
interactive objects). Namely, do the pixel values in the link attributes
really belong in the source? Probably not, as they are closely bound to the image's
"presentation" and tell us nothing about its "content." A better approach is to use each
link element to associate the identifier of an image area with a link address - for example,
<image src="chart 3">
<link link="address1" area="block1"/>
<link link="address2" area="central-blob"/>
The correspondence between the area identifiers (block1 and
central-blob in this example) and the actual pixel coordinates may be
stored in the site's master document. If, however, you want an imagemap to be truly
orthogonal to everything else on the site and easily portable to other sites, consider
creating a separate XML document for each imagemap storing its active areas and their
Interactive objects such as Java applets and Flash movies may also
incorporate multiple links (one example is an animated Flash
menu). Even though you don't have to specify these links in the
HTML code embedding the object, it still makes sense to list them
in the XML source of a page so that the stylesheet can construct an
alternative access mechanism for those users who cannot
(or don't want to) peruse this interactive object.
Tables are perhaps the most abused feature of HTML, with the vast
majority of tables on web pages being used for layout purposes, not
for presenting inherently tabular data. If (like
most web designers) you are going to use HTML tables for web page
layout, you cannot reflect that in the semantic XML source of a page
in any way. It's only the stylesheet that needs to be concerned with
layout table construction.
Sometimes, however, you may have some genuinely tabular data that
you want to format into some sort of a table on a web page. Still,
this does not mean that you have to think in terms of rows and
columns when creating a semantic source for such a table.
If you have something you can name, do it.
For example, consider a sales data table
listing sales figures for several products across several years. The
XML way of marking up this data would be to forget that you're working on a
table and simply list all available data in an appropriately constructed
This approach frees you from worrying about column alignment,
sort order, or empty cells - just dump all your data and you're
done. All the rest will be performed automatically by the
stylesheet: It can filter out a subset of the provided data, group
values in rows and columns, sort them, and fill in "N/A" for missing
values. Thus, the above example might come out as follows:
1998 1999 2000 2001
Barfoo 89 14 N/A N/A
Foobar N/A 123 140 142
Tables from triplets.
In some cases, such a data-centric approach may also make your
source significantly more compact than the table
rendition. Thus, a sparse table with mostly empty cells can be
represented in the source by triplets consisting of a row name, a column name, and the corresponding value at their intersection. Since such a source does not contain separate lists of all columns and rows, the stylesheet will compile them from the triplets.
Is it worth it?
Granted, for an occasional table or two, this may be too much work:
You'll have to program your stylesheet to recognize various element
types and perform various operations (such as normalizing dates)
that may be necessary for your tabular data. For simple isolated
tables, you may be better off more or less directly reproducing in
XML the structure of the target HTML table. However, if you have a
lot of simple tables (or a few complex ones) with similar data, or
if your tables are updated often, the benefits of the semantic
data-centric approach may easily outweigh the simplicity of the
straightforward HTML imitation.
Also, the tabular data on your web site is likely to
be coming from some external source, such as a database or a
spreadsheet. When you write the code to update your tables
automatically, it is usually much easier to first transform the
external data into a semantic XML tree and then let the stylesheet
do table layout.
Interactive elements in HTML are grouped into forms. Simple forms
such as site search or email newsletter subscription are often used
on many pages of the site, and your XML does not need to detail the
structure of these forms. Instead, in your source you can treat such
a form as an indivisible entity - for example, as a special type of
orthogonal block (3.1.2) that can be inserted wherever a normal block is allowed.
Sometimes, even this is not required. For example, if all pages on your site contain a search field in the page footer, you don't need to mention it in the XML source at all. Your stylesheet will simply add this form to every page it produces, just as it adds all other page components that remain the same from page to page.
What if you need to build something more complex, such as a
shipping address input form or a survey form? In these cases you'll
need to create an appropriate element type for each variety of the
form's input controls (such as text fields, radio buttons, and
drop-down lists) as well as for any higher level semantic constructs
within the form. This work can be made much easier by reusing some
of the existing form vocabularies.
An obvious choice for the existing vocabulary from which you could
borrow form-related markup is XHTML, especially if it is your target
vocabulary. The Forms
available starting from XHTML 1.1, may be a good first
approximation. It covers many widget types and allows for proper
logical structuring of your form.
However, in many cases the XHTML form markup may be too
presentation-oriented to be useful for your semantic XML - or simply too
awkward. This is mostly due to the historic baggage of older HTML
versions. Modern HTML and XHTML had to pile their
logical markup provisions on top of the old - limited and inflexible -
For instance, in XHTML you have to write
<label for="firstname">First name:</label>
<input type="text" id="firstname"/>
instead of the more natural
HTML 4.0 had to define a separate
label element that is linked to its input
by a for attribute simply because it had to stay
compatible with older HTML versions that did not allow any children
in an input.
In your source definition, you are free from these concerns and
can therefore mark up your forms in a more logical and
readable way. It is also important that your own markup may be better
integrated with other parts of the system; for example, you could
use an abbreviation (3.5.3) for the form submission address.
Another existing vocabulary worth looking at is
XForms,14 recently developed by the W3C (see
126.96.36.199 for an XForms example). This is a modern XML-based processing
framework that defines not only forms markup but data submission and processing as
well. Compared to XHTML forms, XForms markup is more logical and
presentation-independent (for example, one form can be rendered both visually in a
graphical browser and aurally by a speech browser). Once again, your choice between
borrowing XForms markup or developing your own should depend on the complexity of your
forms and their relative importance in the project.
Form presentation is a difficult task. Even with full manual
control, it's not always easy to lay out a form so that it looks
perfect and remains usable for any data that may be filled into
it. Even more difficult is to automate form layout, enabling the
stylesheet to consistently build good-looking form pages from the
semantic description of the forms' structure. To add insult to
injury, different browsers on different platforms often render form
controls in wildly different ways.
The key is keeping the layout simple and flexible. Don't strive
for precise placement or alignment of controls, as this is
impossible to achieve given the vastly different font and screen
sizes in browsers. (Also, do not tie the position of other
parts of the page to the size or placement of a form - this often
results in a broken page layout.) Take advantage of the form
structure described in the source by separating groups of form
controls into independent layout blocks.
All that said, adding formatting hints (3.6.2) to control form layout may turn out
inevitable. The most common case is specifying the size of text
input fields.15 If you think you need something more
elaborate than that, it is usually an indication that you should try
instead to simplify your form's presentation (or your page design in
In the previous chapter (188.8.131.52), we found that
any web site consisting of more than one page must have a master
document providing shared content and a site directory. In this
section, we'll look at some practical examples of constructs in a typical
web site's master document.
You may find the sample master document described here (see Example 3.2 for a complete
listing) somewhat eclectic. This eclecticism, however, stems from
the real-world practice of XML web sites. In fact, the master
document is more of a database than a document (1.2). The layout of components in this database
is rarely important, as they are not processed sequentially but
accessed in arbitrary order. For lots of ideas on how to access and
use the master document content from the stylesheet, see Chapter 5.
A master document represents a new document type, with
its root element type different from that of a page document, and
most other element types usable only in a master document. However,
if you don't use DTDs (2.2.4) or XSDL, this
distinction has little practical value, and you can use one schema
to validate all of your XML (both page documents and the master
document). Such a schema written in Schematron is shown in Example 3.3 (see also 5.1.3 for advanced Schematron checks).
The role of the master document is that of a hub that all other
documents refer to when they need to figure out a wider context of
the web site or establish mutual links. Whenever the stylesheet needs some
information that is not supplied by the currently processed
document, it will consult the master document to find
either that information or a link to it.
Therefore, the most important part of a master document is the
site directory - a collection of information about all pages of
the site and their organization. This directory is used for building
the site's navigation as well as for resolving abbreviated internal links
Besides pages, other components of the site may also be mentioned
in the master document, such as all Flash animations you have or all
images of a specific kind used on the site. Units of orthogonal
content must be listed in the master document as well (184.108.40.206) so that pages can reference and incorporate
them. Finally, sources of dynamic content must be registered for
the stylesheet to know what to insert into static page templates
A flat list of all pages is not sufficient for building a usable
site. We also need to represent the structure of the site's menu and
the correspondence between menu items and pages.
A simple site's menu may be little more than a linear list of
links to each of its pages. However, most sites require more complex
menu structures. Common are hierarchical menus where some of
the top-level items encompass multiple subpages and/or nested
submenus. Such a structure is straightforward to express
Some sites may have more than one menu. For example, there may be a
menu of topics (content sections) and another independent
menu of tools (pages that help navigate the site, such as search and site map). Such orthogonal menu hierarchies can be stored in independent XML subtrees within the master document.
What do we need to store in the master document for each menu
item? To build a clickable menu element, we must know at least its
label (the visible text displayed in the menu) and the page that
it is linked to. A label may contain inline markup and should
therefore be stored in a child element. As for the link, it is
natural to use the general linking attributes with abbreviated
addresses that we've developed for in-flow links on site pages (3.5.1).
Items vs. pages.
A menu item is not the same as a page of the site. Some pages may not be
available through the menu, while others may be linked from more than
one menu item. Therefore, the page itself must be represented by a
separate element that the menu item element will link to.
However, that does not mean that these page elements must be
stored in a different part of the master document. You can still
categorize all your pages under the branches of the menu tree: Even
if a page is not linked from the menu, usually you can find a branch
where it logically belongs (unless it is orthogonal content,
220.127.116.11). The stylesheet will thus be
able to read the menu structure both hierarchically (when looking for
menu items) and sequentially (when looking for pages).
Here's a possible representation of a menu item:
<page id="products" title="Our products"
<page id="software" title="Our software"
<page id="hardware" title="Our hardware"
In addition to a label and one or more
pages, an item may also contain other
item children. A complete menu description would thus
consist of a hierarchy of items
under one parent, e.g. menu. Note that in each
page element, the id attribute provides a
unique identifier of not only that element, but of the page
itself. It is these identifiers that are used as abbreviated
addresses (3.5.3) in internal links.
How unabbreviation works.
When resolving a link, the stylesheet translates the page
identifier into the location of that page taken from the
src attribute. However, that attribute's value is also
somewhat "abbreviated" in that it omits irrelevant technical
information such as the filename extension and the default filename
(usually index.html) in a directory. These omitted parts
are easy to restore by applying simple rules, so the three
page elements in the above example would yield these page locations:
Note that a location ending with a "/" is considered
a directory and has "index.html" appended; other
locations only receive the ".html" extension.
Accessing the source.
There is one more reason to store page pathnames without
extensions. When locations are resolved for the purpose of accessing
the source XML documents rather than creating an HTML link, the
same src values are transformed into *.xml
file locations (assuming the directory structure of the site source
is similar to that of the transformed site, 3.9.3). For stylesheet code examples to
access this menu structure, see Chapter 5 (5.1.1, 5.7).
Storing page metadata.
Sometimes, a more complex layout for the page elements may be
necessary. For example, if your bilingual site provides two language
versions of each page, a page element could hold both metadata that is common to all language versions of the page (e.g., the page's identifier and source location) and language-specific metadata (e.g., title):
<page id="software" src="products/software/">
<translation lang="en">Our software</translation>
<translation lang="fr">Nos logiciels</translation>
Some of the metadata (3.1.1) may
also be moved from page documents into the master document for
convenient access. For example, if you want to control which pages
of the site are to be seen by search engine spiders and which are
hidden from them, you could add a corresponding value to each page's
source document. However, since this information will be pulled from
all pages of the site simultaneously, it is more convenient to add a
spider control attribute to the page element in the master
document. This way, the stylesheet will be able to produce a
site-wide robots.txt file for external spiders and/or a configuration update for a local search engine spider without accessing all page documents.
Along with all pages, a master document should also list all the
units of orthogonal content that your site will use (18.104.22.168). However, unlike pages, orthogonal content
references cannot be categorized under the menu hierarchy (that is
why this content is orthogonal, after all). You'll need to
create a separate construct to associate orthogonal content
identifiers with corresponding (abbreviated) source locations - for
<block id="news" src="news/latest"/>
<block id="subscribe" src="scripts/subscribe"/>
<block id="donate" src="scripts/donate"/>
Now if the stylesheet processing a page document encounters a
block that has no content of its own but references
some orthogonal content unit - for example, by specifying
idref="news" - the document at
news/latest.xml will be retrieved and inserted into the
current document, formatted as appropriate for an orthogonal content
It is important that the id and
src attributes of a master document's block
element have the same names and semantics as the attributes of
page elements (22.214.171.124). We will
use this when writing stylesheet code to unabbreviate links or
search through all pages of the site (Chapter 5), since
every page must be registered as either a
page in the menu or a source of an orthogonal
block (or both).
Extracting orthogonal content.
In the last example, each orthogonal block was stored in its own file - but
this is not always the best approach. You may want to reuse parts of
regular pages as orthogonal content.
For instance, the news page of a site is often a list of news
items in reverse chronological order. You may want to automatically
extract the most recent news item and display it in an orthogonal
content block on other pages of the site. Another example is a
"featured product" blurb extracted from that product's own page and
reused on the front page of the site.
For these situations, what we need is a way to specify what part
of the original page document is to be reused as orthogonal content
on other pages. Since this part will most likely also be a
block, we only need to indicate the
id of the block we are interested in. Thus, if the
most recent news block on the news page always has
id="last", we could write in the master
<block id="last-news" src="news/" select="last"/>
Now any page can place a copy of the latest news item by
referencing the corresponding orthogonal block by its
identifier, last-news. For example, your page document might
Likewise, the featured product blurb could be extracted from the
block with id="blurb" on that product's
<block id="feature" src="products/foobar" select="blurb"/>
Here, the featured product is identified by the path to the
corresponding document (products/foobar.xml). When you
want to feature a different product, all you need to do is change
this value so it points to another product's page (assuming each
product page has exactly one block with
id="blurb"; see also 126.96.36.199).
After that, all pages that use
will (after you rerun the transformation) display the blurb for the
Logically, without the select attribute, a master
document's block will reference the entire content of
the document pointed to by the src attribute. Your
Schematron schema could also check that the referenced elements
actually exist in the referenced documents (see 188.8.131.52 for how to code this).
No perfection in this world.
It would be even more natural to use XPath expressions for
extracting orthogonal blocks. Then we could use not only the
id attribute value but any XPath test for identifying
the block we need. For instance, for the first
block on the page, we would write
<block id="news" src="news/" xpath="//block"/>
Selecting the last block that has a
section inside would be as simple as
<block id="lastsection" src="dir/page"
There's only one problem with this kind of selector: In XSLT,
you can't take a string and treat it as an XPath expression - and
what the master document (or any other document) stores in its
attributes is always just strings from the XSLT processor
Saxon offers the saxon:evaluate() extension function
(184.108.40.206) that might save the idea, but its
implementation is quite limited, not to mention nonportable to
other XSLT processors. Much better is the dyn:evaluate()
EXSLT (4.4.1) which is currently supported by several processors but not by Saxon.
Recall our discussion of dynamic sites in 1.5. We found that a dynamic web page is produced
from two main parts - static templates and dynamic values - and
that both can (and should) use XML markup. It's now time to see how
these concepts fit into the source definition we are
One way of many.
There exist different ways to aggregate dynamic content and static
templates. Some of them come before XSLT transformation, which is
usually the last stage in a dynamic XML web site workflow; in these
cases, you don't need any special source markup because your
stylesheet will get complete seamless page source with both static
and dynamic content. However, in some situations (notably offline
XSLT processing, 1.4.1) implementing
dynamic content aggregation in XSLT is convenient. This section
shows one approach to organizing such transformation-time
incorporation of dynamic content.
An orthogonal content block that the stylesheet extracts from
another document may be considered a special case of a
composite dynamic value. Therefore, it makes sense to extend
our blocks' markup constructs so that they cover the "truly
dynamic" content as well - content that is calculated or
compiled by some external process and not just stored in a static
We can define a number of block conventions that will allow
us to use blocks not only for enveloping independent bits of content
but also as links to external sources of information. Once again, our
guiding principle is: Let the page author use short mnemonic
identifiers and hide all the gory details of accessing data in the
master document and/or stylesheet.
Calling a process.
Suppose we want to build a site map page that automatically
compiles a hierarchical list of all pages of the site. The first
thing we need is the static part of that page - a document that
stores all the static bits unique to the page, such as an
introductory paragraph and heading(s). This is a normal page that is
listed in the menu hierarchy in the master, just like
any other page.
Wherever we want to insert our dynamic content into that static
frame, we place a block reference, e.g.:
In the master, however, we cannot associate the
sitemap identifier with any source file, since no such
file exists - the list of pages is generated dynamically.
Instead, we must associate our dynamic block identifier
(sitemap) with an identifier of some abstract
process that generates its data. You can think of a process
as a kind of a script or application; it may accept some parameters
that affect its output. Thus, if we write in the master document
(within the same blocks envelope used for orthogonal blocks)
<block-process id="sitemap" process="sitemap" mode="text" depth="2"/>
then the stylesheet will know that a sitemap block
needs to be filled in with data generated by the
sitemap process with parameters
mode="text" and depth="2". This process
can be, for example, a callable template within the stylesheet
(4.5.1) or an external program. With this approach, document authors don't need to know anything about processes or parameters; they use identifiers to refer to data sources, and the master document associates each source with a process and its set of parameters.
Watching a directory.
A stylesheet can access external files even if the list of these
files is changing dynamically. For example, an external process
(which may or may not be another stylesheet) might be dropping its
output XML documents into a directory. Your stylesheet would then
read the list of files in that directory (5.3.2) and do what it pleases with their
content - such as dump all available content
from all files into one page or perform some elaborate selection,
filtering, or rotation.
If, for example, your stylesheet implements a
list-titles process that takes a directory
as a parameter and returns the list of title elements from all
XML documents in the directory, then you could define a block to perform
this operation on all (dynamically updated) documents in the
news directory by writing in the master document
<block-process id="news-list" process="list-titles" dir="news/"/>
In a page document that wants to use this list, you would then
XML, not HTML.
Note that processes similar to sitemap or
list-titles should only aggregate content, not format
it. This means that the corresponding templates or functions in your
stylesheet must produce valid XML data (nodesets), not HTML
renditions. You would then feed these nodesets to the regular
formatting templates in the same stylesheet (see 220.127.116.11 for ideas on how to chain templates
together). If a process is implemented as an external program, it
should return serialized XML data or plain text that the stylesheet
will be able to convert to nodesets.
On a typical web site, all pages contain bits of information that either
remain the same or change predictably from page to page. Some of
this repeating data, such as the company logo or tag line, actually
belongs to the domain of presentation rather than content and
therefore needs to be filled in by the stylesheet rather than stored
in the source. Other components, such as webmaster email
links, "designed by" signatures, copyright or legal notices,
etc., are natural to store in the master document.
It is recommended that you envelop all such bits of content in
one or more umbrella elements, each containing data with
similar roles or positions on the pages. Here's a master document
fragment defining the footer to be placed at the
bottom of each page:
<designed-by>Site design: <ext link="www.kirsanov.com">Dmitry
<legal linktype="internal" link="legal">Legal notices</legal>
<contact linktype="internal" link="contact">Contact us</contact>
Note that the elements inside page-footer
may have mixed content with any of the text markup, linking, or
other elements that were developed for page documents. In
particular, we see internal and external links used in this example,
each with its own address abbreviation scheme (3.5.3).
The page-footer parent element makes the stylesheet
simpler and more bullet-proof: Instead of providing templates for
each of the individual footer elements, you can program the
stylesheet to process all items within a page-footer in
turn, and only provide separate templates for those that differ from
others in formatting. With this approach, you'll be able to add a new
element type for a new footer object even without changing the
Similarly, we can create an envelope for storing metadata that
applies to the entire site. Examples of such metadata include
site-wide keyword lists (which could be merged with page-specific
keywords supplied by the page documents, 3.1.1) and extended credits (which could be put in comments in the HTML code of the site's front page).
Your stylesheet will need to know some parameters of the
environment in which it is run as well as the environment where its
HTML output will be placed. The most frequently required processing
parameter is the base URI that the stylesheet will prepend to all the image and
link pathnames. By changing this parameter, you can turn all
internal link URIs from relative to absolute with an arbitrary base,
which is useful for testing the site in different environments.
Other parameters may provide the path to the source tree
and the operating system under which the stylesheet is run (which,
in turn, may affect the syntax of pathnames).
Grouping parameters into environments.
It is important that the same set of source files may
be processed on different computers - for example, on a
developer's personal system, then in a temporary (staging) location
on the server, and finally in the publicly accessible area on the
target server. Each of these environments will require its own set
of processing parameters. It is therefore convenient to define
several groups of parameter values, one for each environment, and
select only one of the groups by its identifier when running the
Where to store the environment groups?
Obviously, the need to group parameters and assign a unique
identifier to each group makes using XML very convenient - as
opposed to, say, storing the values within scripts used to run the
site build process (6.5.1). Note also that scripts
are the most OS-dependent part of the site setup, so it is best to
keep them as simple and therefore as portable as possible. And of
all the XML documents of a web site, the two most likely choices are
the XSLT stylesheet and the master document.
Your stylesheet is more likely to be shared (in whole or in
part) among different projects, so it is not wise to use it for
storing information that is too project-specific. Also, even though
you can use XSLT variables for storing processing parameters, it is
more convenient to use custom element hierarchies for structuring and
accessing this data. For these reasons, the master document emerges
as the most natural storage for processing parameters.
This does not mean that your master document will differ
among environments. Instead, all identical copies of it will have
information on all environments, and each environment will extract
the relevant set of data by passing a parameter to the
Here's an example group of parameters that define the processing
environment called staging (see 3.10.2 for the meanings of the elements):
Normally, formatting of web pages is created by the
stylesheet. Sometimes, however, formatting is dependent on certain
parameters that, being more content than style, belong in the site's
source and not in the stylesheet. Also, sometimes the stylesheet may
need to create objects that are used on many pages but do not belong
to any one page in particular. In both these situations, the master
document is a convenient place to store data.
An example of such an object is a pair of graphic buttons -
"next" and "prev" - used on sequential pages (such as chapters in an
online book). If your stylesheet generates other graphic buttons on
the site (5.5.2), design consistency and
maintainability will be much better if all buttons are done
in the same way.
These buttons are not specific to any particular page; moreover,
pages that use them don't even need to mention the buttons in the
source because the stylesheet can automatically create the page
sequence, including appropriate navigation. All we need is to store
the button labels somewhere so the stylesheet can generate the
buttons. It makes sense to use the master document for
You can store the button labels in a separate element in the
master and program the stylesheet to regenerate the buttons when run
with the corresponding parameter. For example,
This section presents examples of complete documents that bring
together everything we've discussed in the last two chapters
(and more). The content is fictitious, but the structure and markup
are from real web site projects (somewhat abridged for
Compared to the master document example (3.10.2), the page document in Example 3.1 is short and simple. This is, in fact, what you should strive for in your project. Page documents are the primary work area for those who will update and maintain the site, so the layout of a page document must be as simple and self-evident as possible. (For instance: Do we need indentation in page documents? Probably not, unless it is taken care of automatically.)
The main rule of thumb is: If you can move a bit
of information away from a page document to the master or to the
stylesheet, do that.
en/team/index.xml: A page document.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="us-ascii"?>
<page keywords="team, people, staff, competences, skills">
<!-- Main content block: -->
<p>With backgrounds in technology and communications, FooBar's
experienced management team has - you guessed it -
<em>the right combination of skills for success</em>.</p>
<head>Mike M. Anager</head>
<p>CEO and Co-Founder, Mike leads FooBar towards bringing the vision
of "personal foobar" to reality. He previously served as Chief
Architect at <ext link="www.barfoo.com">BarFoo Corporation</ext>.</p>
<head>Ed N. Gineer</head>
<p>Ed has over 30 years of foobar design experience under his
belt. He has personally contributed to the most acclaimed of
our <int link="solutions">products</int>, including the famous
<int link="fbplus">Foobar Plus</int>.</p>
<head>Jack J. Anitor</head>
<p>Jack's expert janitorial skills and experience have been
critical in the success of FooBar.</p>
<!-- Orthogonal content blocks: -->
Example 3.2 shows a master document that compiles
most of the data we discussed in 3.9
but adds a few new twists.
Our example site is bilingual (English and
German), so all titles and labels are provided in two
languages, and the languages themselves are listed in a
languages element. We add an internal DTD subset
with mnemonic entity references (18.104.22.168) for
For every installation where the site can be built, an
environment element with a unique id
supplies the following information:
src-path is the base directory of the XML source
out-path is the directory where the output files
will be placed (used in batch mode, 5.6). It is
also assumed that the images subdirectory
(img-path) is under out-path.
img-path is where all the images (both static
and generated) are stored. This path is relative to
target-path is the common part of all URIs used
in the resulting HTML files to refer to images or other pages of the
site. Thus, if you transform and view your pages locally at
out-path, then target-path may be the same
as out-path. If, however, you are going to upload the
transformed site to a directory on a web server and access it at,
say, http://www.example.org/test/, then
target-path may be either /test/ (for
absolute pathnames starting with /) or an empty string (for relative pathnames).
On Windows, all absolute paths must be given in the file:/ URL
format.17 This is the only standard and reliable way to
represent an absolute pathname that includes a drive letter. In HTML, URLs with
file:/ work for both links and image references in all browsers we
tested. Other platforms may use absolute pathnames without the
The menu lists all the pages of the
site. For each page, the src attribute
contains the page's pathname (add .xml for source files or
.html for output files) relative to the site's root
Each page has an id attribute used to link to it. To
make life easier, you can also provide a space-separated list of
aliases in the alias attribute. In internal links to
this page, you can use either its id or any of the
Each menu item has a label
child storing the item's visible label. In the
menu on a web page, each item is supposed to be linked to its
first page child, so there's no need to specify a
link in an item.
It is assumed that the English and German versions of the source
files are named the same but stored in different directory trees
under the root directory. The corresponding directories are named
after the language designations defined in
languages. So, for instance, the complete path to the
German fbplus source page in the staging
environment would be constructed as follows:
The blocks element holds a list of orthogonal
content blocks with their identifiers (id), source
document locations (src), and block selectors
(select, 22.214.171.124). Note that
the subscribe page is listed only once as an orthogonal
source, while the solutions/foobar_plus page is both in
the menu and in the blocks list. For this reason, a
block must specify a complete location for the
orthogonal content source and not just its id, as all
other links do, because not all orthogonal documents are registered in the
menu and assigned an id.
Finally, the master document lists the common part to be prepended to
page titles (3.2.4) on all pages
(html-title), page footer content
(page-footer), and two labels for buttons that
need to be created by the stylesheet (buttons).
Note that the mailto links used in page-footer
represent a special link type (3.5.2) with an
abbreviated address (the corresponding resolved URI will have
mailto: prepended to the email address).
_master.xml: The master document.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE site [
<!ENTITY auml "ä">
<!ENTITY ouml "ö">
<!ENTITY uuml "ü">
<!-- Environments: -->
<!-- Languages: -->
<!-- Menu: -->
<page id="home" alias="index front fp frontpage" src="index"/>
<page id="solutions" src="solutions/intro_solutions"/>
<translation lang="de">Das Leben</translation>
<page id="life" src="solutions/life"/>
<page id="fbplus" alias="foobar_plus fb+ foobar+"
<page id="fbminus" src="solutions/foobar_minus"/>
<page id="universe" src="solutions/universe"/>
<page id="everything" src="solutions/everything"/>
<translation lang="en">Our team</translation>
<translation lang="de">Unser Team</translation>
<page id="team" src="team/index"/>
<page id="history" src="team/history"/>
<page id="hire" src="team/hire"/>
<page id="contact" src="contact/contact"/>
<page id="map" src="contact/map"/>
<!-- Orthogonal and dynamic blocks: -->
<!-- Extract the 'summary' block from the product page: -->
<block id="feature" src="solutions/foobar_plus"
<!-- Extract the 'last' block from the front page: -->
<block id="news" src="index" select="last"/>
<!-- Take the entire subscribe.xml: -->
<block id="subscribe" src="subscribe"/>
<!-- Run site map generation: -->
<block-process id="sitemap" process="sitemap"
<!-- Run list-titles on all files in news/: -->
<block-process id="news-list" process="list-titles"
<!-- The common part of the page titles: -->
<translation lang="en">Foobar Corporation AG</translation>
<translation lang="de">Foobar Corporation AG</translation>
<!-- Page footer content: -->
<translation lang="en">© 2003 by Foobar Corporation AG.
All rights reserved.</translation>
<translation lang="de">© 2003 by Foobar Corporation AG.
All rights reserved.</translation>
<lang link="de">Diese Seite in deutsch</lang>
<lang link="en">This page in English</lang>
Problems using this site? Contact the
Probleme mit dieser Web-Site? Kontaktieren Sie bitte unseren
<!-- Sequence navigation buttons: -->
The schema in Example 3.3 is used to validate both
the master document and page documents of our Foobar site. This
makes sense because these document types have a lot in
common. Still, for readability the schema is broken into three
patterns: One tests the master document, another tests page documents, and the last one tests constructs that occur in both document types (this includes links, images, and text markup).
The lang-check abstract rule checks that the element
being checked contains exactly as many translation
children as there are languages defined in the
languages element. This rule can then be reused for any
element that provides information in two languages. A separate rule
with context="translation" additionally checks that the
lang attributes correspond to the defined languages and
that each language version is provided only once.
In this schema, many element-presence checks are lumped together
for simplicity (e.g., all children of an environment are
checked in one assert). This does not have to be that
way; if you want your schema to be really helpful, you can write a
separate check with its own diagnostic message for each element type, explaining its
role and the possible consequences of its being missing from the source.
Note that there are two different page element
types: One is used in the master document, and the other is the root
element type in a page document. The same applies to
blocks. The schema, however, has no problems
differentiating between these element types based on the
One function of a schema is to check for unknown element type
names (most often resulting from typos). In Schematron, this can be
implemented by providing a dummy rule with no tests,
listing all defined element types as possible contexts. Following
that, a rule with context="*" signals error whenever
the rule is activated. This technique is possible because each
context will only match one rule per pattern; if an element was not
matched by the dummy rule, it is caught by the next rule and
reported as unrecognized.
It's only a beginning.This example schema demonstrates only the basic, most critical
checks. Your own schema may be significantly larger and more
detailed than this, although it will likely use mostly the same
techniques. Consider this schema a phrasebook with common
expressions for typical situations. Several advanced tricks for
validating complex constraints are discussed in Chapter 5 (5.1.3).
schema.sch: A Schematron schema for validating
page documents and the master document.
<!-- Checks for the master document: -->
<report test="count(//environment) = 1">
Only one 'environment' found; you will need to create more if you
want to build the site in a different environment.
<report test="count(//environment) = 0">
No 'environment' elements found; the stylesheet will be unable to
figure out pathnames.
<assert test="languages and menu and html-title and page-footer
One of the required elements not found inside 'site'.
<assert test="copyright and language-switch
One of the required elements not found inside 'page-footer'.
<assert test="src-path and out-path
and target-path and img-path and os">
One of the required elements not found inside 'environment'.
An 'environment' must have an 'id' attribute.
<assert test="count(//environment/@id[. = current()/@id]) = 1">
The 'id' attribute value of an 'environment' must be unique.
<rule context="src-path | img-path | out-path | target-path">
The '<name/>' element cannot have children.
<report test="(normalize-space(.) = '')
and not(name() = 'target-path')">
The '<name/>' element cannot be empty.
<assert test="count(lang) = count (*)">
The 'languages' element can only have 'lang' children.
<assert test="count(lang) > 0">
The 'languages' element must have at least one 'lang' child.
<assert test="count(//languages/lang[. = current()]) = 1">
Each language must be specified only once.
<assert test="count(item) = count (*)">
The 'menu' element cannot contain elements other than 'item'.
<assert test="label" diagnostics="label-element">
A 'label' element is missing.
<report test="count(label) > 1" diagnostics="label-element">
There is an extra 'label' element.
At least one 'page' element should be specified within an 'item'.
Each 'page' must have an 'src' attribute.
Each 'page' must have a unique 'id' attribute.
<assert test="count(//page/@id[. = current()/@id]) = 1">
The 'id' attribute value of a 'page' must be unique.
<!-- Abstract rule to check 'transformation' children: -->
<rule abstract="true" id="lang-check">
<assert test="count(translation) = count(//languages/lang)">
The number of 'translation' children in '<name/>' must correspond
to the number of defined languages. If this element does not
exist in one of the languages, use an empty 'translation' element.
<assert test="count(translation) = count(*)">
There must be no child elements here other than 'translation'.
<!-- Applying the abstract rule to all bilingual elements: -->
<rule context="label | html-title | copyright
| language-switch | contact-webmaster | button">
Each 'translation' must have a 'lang' attribute.
<assert test="@lang = //languages/lang/text()">
The value of the 'lang' attribute must correspond to one of the
<report test="@lang = preceding-sibling::translation/@lang">
There is another 'translation' element under this parent with the
same value of the 'lang' attribute.
<report test="*[not(self::block or self::block-process)]">
A 'blocks' element must only contain one or more 'block' or
<assert test="@id and @src">
A 'block' defined in the master document must have both 'id' and
<assert test="count(//blocks/block/@id[. = current()/@id]) = 1">
The 'id' attribute value of a 'block' must be unique.
<!-- Checks for page documents: -->
Please consider adding a list of keywords to the page. Use a
'keywords' attribute for that.
Each 'page' must have a 'title'.
<assert test="count(title) < 2">
A 'page' may have only one 'title'.
Each 'page' must have at least one 'block'.
<assert test="@idref or *">
A block must have either an 'idref' attribute (referring to an
orthogonal block) or children.
<report test="@idref and *">
A block cannot have both an 'idref' attribute and children.
<report test="count(p | section) < count(*)">
A block can only have 'p' or 'section' children.
A section must have a 'head'.
A section must have at least one 'p' (paragraph).
<assert test="normalize-space(text()) = ''">
A section cannot contain text. Use a 'p' element to include a
paragraph of text.
<!-- Rules common for master and page documents: -->
<rule context="int | link[@linktype='internal']">
An internal link must use a 'link' attribute to specify the
page being linked.
<report test="(normalize-space(text()) = '') and not(*)">
A paragraph cannot be empty. If you want to increase vertical
spacing here, modify the stylesheet.
<!-- Dummy rule listing all defined element types: -->
block | block-process | blocks | button | buttons |
contact-webmaster | copyright | environment | em | ext | head |
html-title | img-path | int | item | label | lang |
language-switch | languages | link | mailto | menu | os |
out-path | p | page | page-footer | site | section | src-path |
subhead | target-path | title | translation"/>
<!-- Report error if an element was not matched by the above: -->
Unrecognized element: '<name/>'.
Every 'item' element must contain exactly one 'label' element
specifying the corresponding top menu label.
Formatting attributes such as font,
color, or numbering style are out of the question - the whole point
of semantic XML is that these must be abstracted away.
A linked element
is often called an anchor, and HTML uses this term for both
the source of the link (source anchor) and its destination
(destination anchor); hence the use of the a
element for both ends of a link.
In Western writing systems, of course.
An RFC (Request for Comments) is one of the series of
standards created by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and
governing most of the underlying technical structure of the
Strictly speaking, HTML links to
URIs, not pathnames, but links within a site almost always use
relative or absolute pathnames (without a server part) that are also
Unfortunately, this only works for your own site. Visitors
coming from another site linking to yours will still get a
404 for a moved page.
It might be argued that the size of an input field
is one of its essential semantic aspects and not a superficial
The single slash character in this URL means that the file is available
locally and not on a network host.