Global large-scale stylesheet deployment case study

Track: Deploying XML, Large-Scale Architectures, Case Studies

Audience Level: Technical view

Time: Thursday, November 17 09:45

Author: G. Ken Holman, Crane Softwrights Ltd.

Keywords: XSL-FO, XSLT, MSP


In anticipation of a world-wide deployment of an XML authoring environment for documents modeled according to a community-standard vocabulary, differing presentation requirements need to be accommodated in different installations using a single presentation architecture.  Legacy applications and local presentation conventions guide the expectations of users to produce reports in the new environment that are identical or similar to the reports they have worked with in some cases for many years.  Only a stylesheet architecture designed for specialization and customization can accommodate such a diverse set of presentation expectations.

The large-scale and widely-deployed Intelligence Production Environment (IPE) uses both XSLT and XSL-FO to produce both HTML and PDF renditions of an XML document authored according to a standardized community document model.  XSLT is used to express the construction of the result presentations from the source documents.  XSL-FO is used to express the presentation semantics for both HTML and PDF, thus promoting fidelity between the two renderings.

A presentation architecture of an extensive use of granular, modularized, imported XSLT stylesheet fragments creates a baseline easily specialized for individual deployment requirements.  Each organization deploying the system writes localization stylesheets to reflect the desired presentations mimicking their legacy reports, writing only deviations from the baseline stylesheets without having to write a stylesheet from scratch or having to rewrite large portions of existing behaviors.

This one architecture supports both the authors creating preview presentations locally on their workstations, and a centralized server creating final presentations for shared access.  The same baseline and localization stylesheets are deployed in both environments, providing fidelity between the previews and final presentations.

This architecture has been successfully deployed in the US Intelligence Community amongst a growing number of organizations, supported by a core engineering group providing baseline maintenance and training to organization personnel.  Having accomplished the isolation of baseline and layered functionality, the stylesheets are also made available and used successfully outside of the context of the authoring and publishing environment by users of other tools creating standardized intelligence documents.

This paper overviews the principles of the architecture, the implementation techniques used to realized the benefits, the deployments of the architecture both inside and outside of the authoring project, and how anyone needing to accommodate similar requirements can approach their stylesheet design.

Copyright: ©2005Crane Softwrights Ltd.