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XML/XSLT hype and a multilingual CMS

 
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Hi everyone,
I am fairly new to learning about xsl and xml, but one thing I have noticed is that anyone offering a tutorial or lesson on it seems to think that its the most incredible invention ever made.
I don't.
I'm wondering what everyone else thinks. I know the smart answer is, use it if you need it and don't if you don't. But seeing as everyone is going on about it so much, and I really can't see the big deal, I'm beginning to wonder if either I am missing something or just making it to hard for myself
Heres my situation. My boss is the MD of a localisation company - they localise software and training manuals and so on (translation mainly). Now, my boss has got it into his head that xml is just the bees knees and should be applied anywhere and everywhere. He wants me to make him a multilingual content management system using xml and probably xsl. The thing is, I don't really think he needs a content management system as such. We only have like twenty pages and sure it would be maybe a small help to be able to keep foreign language pages in lock step with the master (uk) site, but that could hopefully be done in an easier way.
Can you think of any reason to do this in xsl? The other thing is he really wants xml built into the system somehow. All I'm going to do is support the retrieval of relational data as xml. Although I can't even see him needing that really.
I understand that it would be helpful to seperate presentation and content - exactly what xslt achieves. But it just strikes me that the price is way way to high - sure it can seperate, but its hard! I can't even make simple html docs using xslt. And I doubt many other people can either. So, I'm pretty worried that if I were to somehow manage to make a decent website using xslt, anyone who wanted to make even the simplest of changes would need to know a pretty difficult, hard to understand and obscure technology.
Does anyone else think the xslt hype is just that - hype. Sure it would be ok for sites that are maintained by legions of programmers and it would be rather useful if you wanted people with phones to look at your site - but lets be honest - how many of you think that your site would be great on a 2 inch screen.
Can anyone foresee any advantages to using xml in such a small multilingual context?
Please share your thoughts and lets see if we can't get down to the bottom line
Kindest Regards to Everyone
Simon
 
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I share your first impression that there really isn't much to XML. I've been exchanging data structures between unlike systems for 20 years and made up some pretty clever schemes on my own, even if I'm the only one who thinks so. XML is rather underwhelming as far as data structures go.
Far and away the most important thing about XML is that it is so widely accepted. This makes XML very important in B2B and integration hub work, even if the tech doesn't excite you much. And it means there are zillions of tools that work with it.
For your situation, I'd probably agree that a real content management system is in order. XML is fairly dumb data, and you'll need some real smarts to organize and manage your content. You very well might find a commercial content management system that uses a lot of XML under the covers. I'd try not to write one, tho!
XML and XSLT make a cool combination if you have well organized content that you need to display several different ways. You could translate the same XML to HTML, printed text, special XML that can be used by audio readers, etc. Or maybe you have to present the same content with very different HTML look & feel depending on the user's expertise or subscription level. Then the common XML content underneath pays off.
 
Simon Harvey
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Hi Stan
Thank for your suggestions on xslt. Thats helpful.
Here's the thing that I'm stuck on though -
The company i work for is rather small and has no dedicated it staff. They want a multilingual content management system for two reasons:
1. To show that they can localise a website (they are in that business and want to show off)
2. The want several people to be able to update the website.
The thing is, I'm not convinced that they need one. You see, the site is very small and doesnt really change much. XSLT would be to complicated for them. For example, what would they do if they wanted to make a small change to the layout of the site? They would have to go through the xslt doc and make the change.
I understand that xml may be useful in certain ways but I'm really not too sure what to tell my boss. Can anyone think of a sort of compromise?
I'm very confused
Thanks everyone
Simon
 
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Have you considered using a hosted content management tool such as www.kitsite.com or www.chipka.com ? This will give your boss the structured management he requires, while saving you the headache of actually handling XML/XSLT.
 
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