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Chapter 5. Declarative Content > Cascading Style Sheets

5.5. Cascading Style Sheets

The term style sheets has become overloaded, with the two common interpretations being XML style sheets (XSL) and CSS. XSLs are essentially a language for transforming an XML file into another XML file; their development was driven by the need for transforming XML data files into XHTML documents that could be laid out and rendered. In contrast, CSS is a language for specifying the visual or otherwise rendering properties of an element, without specifying any transformations.

Note, however, XSL has a different functionality than CSS. To understand the relationships and distinctions, note that an XSL document could specify a transformation of an XML data file into another XML file; the input and output of an XSL file could be an XHTML file which contains CSS elements and attributes, but does not contain XSL elements. Whereas the XSL is interpreted and processed at the time the XHTML file is generated, the CSS is interpreted and processed when the resulting XHTML file is selected for viewing in (i.e., rendered by) a browser. For more details on the use of XSL(T) see www.w3.org/Style/XSL [XSL].


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