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Java and XSLT by Eric M. Burke

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Chapter 3. XSLT Part 2 -- Beyond the Basics

As you may have guessed, this chapter is a continuation of the material presented in the previous chapter. The basic syntax of XSLT should make sense by now. If not, it is probably a good idea to sit down and write a few stylesheets to gain some basic familiarity with the technology. What we have seen so far covers the basic mechanics of XSLT but does not take full advantage of the programming capabilities this language has to offer. In particular, this chapter will show how to write more reusable, modular code through features such as named templates, parameters, and variables.

The chapter concludes with a real-world example that uses XSLT to produce HTML documentation for Ant build files. Ant is a Java build tool that uses XML files instead of Makefiles to drive the compilation process. Since XML is used, XSLT is a natural choice for producing documentation about the build process.

Conditional Processing

In the previous chapter, we saw a template that output the name of a president or vice president. Its basic job was to display the first name, middle name, and last name. A nonbreaking space was printed between each piece of data so the fields did not run into each other. What we did not see was that many presidents do not have middle names, so our template ended up printing the first name, followed by two spaces, followed by the last name. To fix this, we need to check for the existence of a middle name before simply outputting its content ...

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