Why use XSL-FO?
What is XSL-FO?
XSL was orignally a single specification developed by the W3C which defined two major
pieces of functionality. The first was a formatting language which allows the description
of a series of printed pages and a detailed set of rules for how to assemble those pages. The
formatting language can be loosely viewed as a superset of CSS2 with support for printed media.
The second major piece of functionality in the original spec was the defintion of a transformation
engine which supports the ability to take an XML input file and transform it into the formatting
language. The rules for how to accomplish this transformation are specified in a 'stylesheet'.
These two pieces were later broken out into separate specifications: XSLT, the transformation engine,
and XSL-FO, the formatting language.
Why use XSL-FO?
- XSL-FO is a W3C standard.
- Allows you to produce PDF files on demand from an XML data source.
- Abiltiy to automate the production of PDF documents for regulatory filings, customized one-off catalogs, statements, invoices, reporting and documentation.
- Ability to create printable forms with some or all of the fields filled in. For example, A customers name, address and account number could be populated from a database into the form which they requested.The customer can then print the form, sign it and mail it back.
- Ability to present content in multiple formats. Using XSLT it is possible to generate an html page or an XSL-FO document from the same XML source document. This means that the original document may be created once and different 'views' of that document can be presented to the user depending on their needs. For example, a brokerage customer might request a statement over the web. The web site might have an option for viewing the statement as html, pdf, postscript or SVG.