Benefits of transforming XML Data with XSLT

The words “XSL” and “T” are combined to produce the acronym “XSLT.” “XSL” stands for “Extensible Stylesheet Language,” and “T” stands for “Transformation.”

XSLT is a transformation language used to transform source XML documents into various formats like HTML, PDF, or XSL-FO (Formatting Objects), among others. You can utilize the Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) APIs for various things. For instance, you could produce PDF or PostScript output from the XML data with a sophisticated stylesheet. But most frequently, XSLT is used to produce prepared HTML output or a different XML representation of the data.

Through this article, we will come to know and understand the benefits of transforming XML data with XSLT. Before beginning, let’s know a little about XML. 

What is XML

Before jumping straight to XML, let’s know about mark-up language. The markup language uses words, names, or tags that are simple to understand and is used for formatting the way a presentation of content is designed. The markup languages HTML, SGML, and XML are among the examples.

Here are some characteristics of XML:

  • Creating data formats for documentation, database records, transactions, and many other types of data is the main purpose of XML. 
  • It Defines and develops various types of content, including web, print, and mobile material. On the foundation of the XML data, new content types can be created using the data. 
  • XML documents are saved as American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) files and can be modified using any text editor, just like Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), which is also based on the SGML standard.

Here is how you can open an XML file,

Even for a newcomer, working with XML files is rather straightforward. There are a few ways to open an XML file, including by opening the file and editing it in a text editor or by opening the file and viewing it in a web browser.

To use a text editor to open an XML file, follow these steps:

  1. To open an XML file, use the right-click menu.
  2. Pick “Open With” from the context menu by pointing.
  3. Select “Notepad” from the menu.

The text editors Notepad and Notepad++ are both suitable choices for opening XML files. You can open the XML file in Notepad, but the formatting might get messy and perplexing. 

In this situation, Notepad++ might be preferable because it maintains the file’s original formatting.

To examine an XML file in a web browser, follow these steps:

  1. Go to or open the homepage of your default web browser. 
  2. The XML file should open in your browser after a double-click.
  3. Right-clicking on the file will reveal a list of choices for opening it with different programs if it won’t open.
  4. You can now choose your web browser from the available apps.

What is XSLT?

Before we understand XSLT, we need to know about XSL. Extensible Stylesheet Language is known as XSL. The same as CSS is for HTML; it is a styling language for XML.

The Transformation of XSL is referred to as XSLT. XML documents are converted into various formats using the same technique uses to transform XML documents into HTML. 

The XSLT stylesheet is composed in XML. It serves as a means of specifying the transformation rules that will be utilized on the target XML document. The XSLT processor uses the XSLT stylesheet and executes the transformation rules on the source XML file to produce a prepared document in the form of XML, HTML, or text. In the end, the XSLT format uses an XSLT stylesheet to create the real output, which is then shown to the user. The XSLT stylesheet is composed in XML. It serves to specify the transformation rules that will be utilized on the target XML document.

How To Transform XML Data With XSLT

Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations (XSLT) are the standard technique for converting XML data into different formats.  When converting XML documents into HTML, plain text, or other XML schemas, you can use the built-in XSLTRANSFORM function using stylesheets.

Although XSLT is frequently used to convert XML to HTML, it can also be used to change XML documents that follow one XML schema into documents that follow another schema. Additionally, XSLT may be used to transform XML data into unrelated formats, such as comma-delimited text or formatting languages like Troff. 

How XSLT works

While dealing with DITA-XML or DocBook document formats, XSLT plays an important role in creating style sheets and templates to specify the document structure. These stylesheet development processes can be achieved using scripting languages like JavaScript or CSS. However, due to their extensive flexibility and scalability, XSLTs are a preferred method.

An XSLT template element will often begin by stating which element it applies to.

Example: <xsl:template match=”product”>

The above declaration of  ‘product’ tags found in the target XML file will have their contents replaced by those in this template. A list of such declarations and their attributes can be found in an XSLT file.

A common XSLT template is illustrated in the example below. 

The XML documents holding inventory data in this instance will be the target, such as this record detailing an ice scraper.

The product number, description, and price of a windshield ice scraper are all included in this document.

A portion of this data is present in elements, such as <name>. The PID property of the product> element, in this case, contains some, like the component number, in its content. You might want to use the XSLT template below to show this data as a web page: 

The template and target documents previously shown as input will cause an XSLT processor to produce the following HTML document:

Throughout this process, the XSLT processor examines the source XML document for predetermined conditions defined for the template. The contents of the template are included in the output if a condition is true; otherwise, the processor skips over the template. The stylesheet may include its own information in the output, for instance in HTML table tags and strings like “product ID.”

Both defining template conditions, as in xsl:template match=”product”, and selecting and inserting data from anywhere in the XML stream are possible with XPath.

Benefits of Transforming XML Data with XSLT

  1. XSLT offers a simple method of integrating XML data into presentation formats like HTML or PDF. 
  2. User-defined transformations are applied to an XML document to generate structured documents. 
  3. XSLT offers better practicality due to strong yet extensible and flexible elements and attribute declarations to control content.
  1. Within an XML document, XSLT offers Xpath to discover elements and attributes. In comparison to the conventional method of employing scripting language, traversing an XML document is therefore more practical.
  1. XSLT is built on templates. As a result, it can withstand document modifications better than low-level DOM and SAX.
  1. The application’s UI script will have a professional appearance and be simpler to maintain by utilizing XML and XSLT.
  1. XSLT templates are built using the XPath pattern, which is particularly effective in processing XML documents in terms of speed.

To know more about the benefits of XML authoring-based structured documentation that works best with open-source XSLT, reach out to our experts at

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